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Mar 27, 2007 07:55 PM

Jicama as a Drink

The other night we visited neighbors who just returned from a gourmet tour of Mexico. They served a drink (cold, iced, tall glasses) made from dried jicama flowers they had brought back, a big bagful. It was a beautiful red, a little bit tart (I think our neighbor said she had put some honey in it). I shop all the time at Hispanic stores but don't remember ever seeing jicama flowers (probably now that I know they exist I will see them). Does anybody here know bout this drink? Is this the flower of the plant that produces the jicama we see in the produce department?

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  1. Follow-up Bulletin: I did some googling and what I now think is that my neighbor doesn't speak Spanish. It sounds as if what she called jicama (a drink) is actually jamaica aka hibiscus flower tea. Try it as a cold drink---it is refreshingly tart and has a really gorgeous color. Looks like it's full of Red Dye #6 but I gather the color is natural.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Querencia

      Te de Jamaica is hibiscus flower, very tart, very red. I have purchased it at a local Cuban/Latin market before.

        1. re: Querencia

          The title of this post made my eyes pop! I'm glad you clarified things with your neighbor. Yes, the jamaica flower color is 100% natural.

          An alta cocina mexicana restaurant near me in Guadalajara makes an appetizer of deep fried jamaica flowers. If I can ever get them to give up the recipe, I'll post it here.


        2. Further googling and a session with the dictionary brought worlds of information. Not only does jamaica translate as hibiscus, which I did not know although I have spoken Spanish for sixty years, but the other name of this plant is roselle. If you google roselle there is a terrific website with pictures, recipes (tea, cordial, syrup), scientific analysis (incredibly high in calcium), and worldwide uses (thought to be hypotensive). Live and learn.I should have googled first and asked questions later.....but thanks for responses.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Querencia

            The big yellow Gourmet cookbook has a recipe for lamb marinated in hibiscus.

            1. re: Querencia

              If you are ever successful at growing the flowers yourself.... one of the regional delicacies of Guerrero are the Jamaica Flower Enchiladas... interesting to know they are rich in calcium... would not have expected that.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                I've had Enchiladas de Flor de Jamaica. I wouldn't say they're my favorite enchilada but they're unusual and an interesting change from the usual suspects. For this particular dish you need to make sure each flower has been cleaned and all the internal parts - which are hard - removed at the base of the bud where it attaches to the stem. This is a painstaking job. I've also had margaritas made with jamaica. They're pretty good.

                Unsweetened (yes it is drinkable unsweetened, tho' that is an acquired taste) or slightly sweetened you can sub it for almost anything calling for cranberry juice.

            2. How would I go about preparing it as a drink? (my mom brought me back a bag of flor de jamaica from Central America)
              Do I steep it in hot water, for how long, flower to water proportions etc. Any details would be appreciated.

              4 Replies
              1. re: morebubbles

                I boil the flowers in water for about 10 minutes - maybe a cup of flowers to 4 cups of water. I then chill it, add sweetner and additional cold water as needed.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Thanks MMRuth! Will try that this weekend.

                  1. re: morebubbles

                    You're welcome - it's really delicious - known to be diuretic, BTW.

                2. re: morebubbles

                  They sell dried hibiscus flowers at Trader joe's (so good!). You can eat them straight out of the bag, or add them to hot water or hot tea or any cold drink, let them marinate and you get a really sweet taste added to your drink. Really good!

                3. Not only is jamaica known as roselle, as another blogger pointed out, it is also called sorrell, no relation to the sour-leafed plant used in schav. You will see it called sorrell in Africa and the Caribbean. More common in the Caribbean, however, is "roselle." If you live in the Clairemont area, the tiendita at the corner of Clairemont Mesa and Clairemont Drive sells it in a big barrell at the side of the store where the dried peppers are found. Very inexpensive and a small handful of dried buds will make a lot of tea.

                  1. Is this the very same hibiscus flower that hula dancers wear tucked behind their ear?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sharuf

                      The hibiscus flower is in the malvacea family, while the hibiscus being discussed (roselle) is in the hibiscus sabdariffa (sic?) family.You can go wikipedia to hibiscus and see the differences between the flowering hibiscus and the woody plant grown for medicinal/food purposes.