Mabel’s Roselle Jam

On Friday evening four of us turned up at Mabel’s Organic Roselle Farm to learn how to make roselle jam. It was well worth the effort. The roselle plant produces very attractive flowers in considerable quantities, although, as I found out last year, if you don’t stake the plants they’ll get blown over by the first typhoon that comes along. Mabel, of course, stakes hers. Here she is showing us the calyx, or sepals, of the plant which is used to make the jam:

Here’s a close-up of the calyx, which still contains the seed pod in it:

Mabel uses what I think is an old lipstick case, or a sawn-off bullet, to push out the seed pod, with great ease. I had to use a knife when I made some roselle tea later in the evening, and it was quite a dodgy operation:

Fifty calyxes have to be de-seeded in this way, and washed, which takes about an hour, but Mabel had already done it before we arrived. They are then chopped up fairly small and put in a pan:

Turn up the heat and keep stirring; reduce the heat when the roselle starts steaming. Add 100 mls of water after five minutes:

Keep stirring:

Add demerara sugar – about 15 teaspoons – after 10 minutes, bit by bit:

Drop a bit in water: if it doesn’t spread much, it’s ready:

Spoon into a jar which has been sterilised, with the cap, in boiling water for ten minutes:

Fill to within 1cm of the top, as in the picture:

Stand upside down for 5 minutes – the jar, not you:

Label it with the date, put in the fridge, and eat within two months of opening it:

Well, we all bought a jar each from Mabel, and it was a very good, firm consistency with a delicious taste. I also made some tea using five calyxes, and this too was very tasty, as was it when it was cold. Mabel says it’s good for women’s blood circulation.

All in all, roselle is a real discovery for me. I really like the jam and the tea, and it’s a very attractive plant. Plus, as you can see from the above, it’s not difficult or time-consuming to prepare whichever way you want to use it. Thanks to Mabel for doing a great workshop. Maybe we could persuade her to sell us some seedlings when she’s got some.

Don Latter


About transitionsl

I've been an English teacher for the best part of 30 years, teaching in England, Tanzania, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong. I've always been interested in nature and environmental issues, but it was the discovery of Peak Oil about five years ago that galvanised me into trying to help my local community to prepare for what will be a dramatically different world to the one many of us have been used to. I've been helping to run a transition group, following the guidelines created by Rob Hopkins's Transition Movement in the UK. This blog is an attempt to engage in discussion with a wider group of people in Hong Kong on the ways to transition from our current oil dependency to a state of fossil-free local resilience.
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4 Responses to Mabel’s Roselle Jam

  1. Philine says:

    Thanks a lot Don for the report, pictures and recipe! I’ll now go and make my roselles into jam!

    • transitionsl says:

      I had a couple of bushes that were doing well, but I didn’t secure them against typhoons, and as they’ve got fairly weak roots they were destroyed in a T8 a couple of years ago. Mabel’s been making roselle wine this year. If she does a workshop I’ll let you know.

  2. jackyranda says:

    My magnificent roselle bush died last month, just as it was showing fruit. It was, without exaggeration, 2 metres high and two metres wide. It was planted in soil which I think deep down has a lot of construction material in it, and I think the roots hit something they couldn’t deal with. A very kind friend, hearing of my plight, has given me some roselle and I will try your recipe this weekend.
    By the way, I grew mine from seed which I kept from Roselle I bought from Mabel last year. She originally recommended it to me to help get rid of a bad cough and I think it did help.

  3. polly says:

    There’s an easier way to take the pods out. Just freeze and thaw ; then it comes off easily. Freezing is also another way of storing any excess that you might have.

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