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ISO Dried Hibiscus for Jamaica

My local health food store said they could get it for me. Were going to charge me $20/pound. Sounded a bit outrageous to me, but in the end they weren't able to get it from either of their suppliers anyway. Any idea where I can find it in Manhattan? Preferably at a more reasonable price?

Thanks,
Joan

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  1. Don't have a specific Manhattan rec (I live in Bklyn), but any place--supermarket, bodega, whatever--with any West Indian clientele will have it. It's sold alongside the spices in those cellophane packages. It will be labelled "sorrel."

    Also, I think there are a number of Mexican grocers/general stores on 9th/10th Ave. in the 40s. (Of course, it will be labelled "jamaica" there.)

    As for the price from your health food store, it does SOUND crazy, but it might not be: dried flowers don't weigh much of anything, and it doesn't take a lot to make a fairly strong beverage is good quantity.

    Good luck.

    1. I've bought it at Fairway - "Flor de Jamaica" ...

      4 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Correct, in the Caribbean, its called Sorrel and its labeled as Sorrel by Caribbean packaged goods companies. Its widely sold all over the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn in any store that sells West Indian products. It usually just a couple of bucks for a bag of dried leaves--enough to make a gallon of Sorrel drink. Its not always in Fairway, but it is there much of the time, especially at 125 St. I have seen it sporadically at some Manhattan health food stores, but its expensive compared to the dried caribbean package version.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Asked for it at Fairway just yesterday and was told they didn't have it, but I may well have asked the wrong person. Was this the 74th Street store? Do you recall which section? With the teas? Upstairs with organics?

          1. re: JoanN

            I seem to recall seeing it at the 74th Street store hanging around the end of a produce aisle - near the entrance, along with other "Latin" dried herbs - but, it has been awhile.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I've seen it in the same location @ 125St.

        2. You can get it in Chinese grocery stores or Chinese herb stores. Not expensive at all. I'm assuming this is the dark red flowers that are really really sour?

          1. I have purchased Hibiscus at Kalustyans on Lexington (right by Curry in a Hurry). They have a wonderful selection of herbs, spices, and hard to find international food items. Try not to buy everything in the store. I dare you. http://www.kalustyans.com/aboutus.asp

            2 Replies
            1. re: luna88

              Great to know. Kalustyans always comes immediately to mind for anything middle eastern, but it didn't occur to me for something I think of as Latin American. And I see they sell 2 ounces for $3.99, so my health-food store price of $20/pound wasn't all that out of line. Thanks, luna88.

              1. re: JoanN

                that's where I get mine; Kalustyan's

            2. If you don't mind doing mail order, try Mountain Rose Herbs, http://mountainroseherbs.com/

              They're selling high-quality dried organic hibiscus flowers from Tanzania for $9/lb. I get mine from there, and they're very tasty, far better than the non-organic hibiscus flowers I used to get for a much higher price at Angelica's in the East Village.

              1. Kalustyan's is (except for spices) generally overpriced, but $20/lb isn't bad. If you went to a neighborhood supermarket in the right neighborhood, it'd be cheaper ($.75 to $1/oz), but not enough to warrant a special trip.

                3 Replies
                1. re: MikeG

                  "$20/lb isn't bad."

                  It is, compared to $9/lb.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Agreed. Decided it wasn't worth the subway fare to Kalustyan's and just ordered a pound from mountainroseherbs.com. Thanks much, Pan, for the link.

                2. This is heading into dead horse territory quickly, but of course that price is cheaper. Certainly than Kalustyan's, but their price is silly and that's the sort of thing I would never buy there. I can get it in my (UWS) neighborhood for a little over $2/2 oz, which is about par in brick & mortar stores.

                  Anyway, I was comparing it to that - B&M sources. And of course unless you really need a LOT of it, the price is lower than Mountain Rose's minimum and then you pay another $6+ for shipping. So by price alone, it's not worth it, even if they let the minimum slide (I couldn't do it online, but maybe they will on the phone.) Of course, if the quality is that much better, mailordering makes sense for that reason alone.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MikeG

                    I get 2 pounds at a time (they put it in one bag, too), so I believe the hit from shipping is lower by volume.

                    I can't compare their quality to anything but the stuff I used to get from Angelica's, which was much more dried out. This stuff is really flavorful.

                  2. OP: I suspect this is out of your way, but I just bought plastic 2 oz bag of El Gallon Brand dried hibiscus flower for $1.99 at the Foodtown at 148 St & St Nichlaus Ave. That Foodtown store sells common Caribbean/latino products for cheap (ie Pickapeppa sauce for $1.99 a bottle, Goya, Maggi etc.). According to the back of the package, El Gallon brands is out of Yonkers 914 457 0826 tel/fax. Perhaps if you call, they can tell you where they sell in your part of town.

                    1. Reporting back on my search and my conclusions.

                      I ordered two pounds of the organic hibiscus flowers from Tanzania from Mountain Rose Herbs recommended by Pan for $9/lb. plus $6+ for shipping. Wonderful depth of flavor with a hint of tartness. Could easily make a gallon from two cups of the hibiscus, which was chopped fairly fine.

                      Continued to look for other sources in my negihborhood, including the downtown Fairway, but I still haven't found it. I guess I live too far downtown on the upper west side.

                      I also continued my search online and found that MexGrocer carried it for $2.25/8 ounces. As my Mountain Rose supply began to run out, I ordered two pounds from MexGrocer. (Forget how much the shipping was.) The MexGrocer flowers (Corona Real brand) were not as cut up as the Mountain Rose. Two cups make about a half a gallon and it has nowhere near the depth of flavor or the hint of tartness that the Mountain Rose product has.

                      I was quite surprised that the difference could be so significant, that one product could be so superior to the other. And when you factor in how much agua each produces, the price differential becomes inconsequential.

                      Unfortunately, now that I've decided Mountain Rose does indeed carry a superior product, they're out of stock on the Tanzanian and are selling something from Egypt at .50 more a pound. But as soon as I finish my current stock, I'll try them again anyway. Thanks, Pan. Great find.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JoanN

                        I'm glad that worked out for you, and I'm disappointed that they're out of stock on the Tanzanian flowers now. I have no idea what the Egyptian flowers are like, but I do tend to have a fair amount of trust in the quality control of that company.