Sorrel jam — a gorgeous spread with a unique flavour
Making jam is not a totally new thing for me. Growing up my mom always made jam. We were privileged and I say that with so much appreciation, to live very near to farmland Ontario. A few minutes of driving and we had our (literal) pick of apple orchards, peach orchards, berry farms, cherry orchards galore.
My aunt’s backyard was full of cherry trees. I remember just hanging out in her backyard eating endless amounts of cherries. My parents backyard had pear trees and a quince tree. I looked forward to strawberry picking the most every year!! I have always loved strawberries since I can remember. Every year my mom and I and several aunts would go picking strawberries and the deal was eat as many as you want while picking and pay for the ones picked. I would always leave feeling so full and like I could never eat or look at another strawberry but by the very next day I was snacking on a big bowl of strawberries again! These are not your grocery store kind of strawberries. Nothing beats the taste of ripely picked fruit. I don’t care what fruit it is. There’s nothing like it!!
Another thing I looked forward to when picking strawberries, was the whole lot of jam that was to be made with it. I remember it clearly my mom making it and me helping but mostly eating while she did the work. It was the best jam ever!! I don’t remember when we stopped going berry picking(now feeling very nostalgic) but I will have to put that on my list of things to do when I’m back home during any kind of fruit season.
So about this sorrel jam. First off let me tell you a few little things about sorrel or as many know Roselle or rosella fruit, a species of the hibiscus. In the Caribbean it is called sorrel and the flowers appear during December and January. Whether fresh or dried they are very commonly used to make iced tea from the flower or a variety of drinks. The petals of the flower can be eaten and taste like a very floral sweet tart flavour. Kind of sour/tart like cranberries without the bitterness.
It has the perfect jam texture without adding anything but sugar to it
And if you didn’t know sorrel is full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Apparently it cures everything from the common cold, fever, asthma, coughing, inflammation…etc I have heard it all. Not 100 percent certain of all of those claims but I am certain that it makes a perfect jam!! Why you say? Well I love tart jams, so sorrel jam is right up my alley flavour-wise. But I read an article in a good column called tastes like home by Cynthia Nelson (I think it’s a Bajan paper) that the seed capsule when boiled creates a natural pectin or thickener, making this a super easy jam to make. It has the perfect jam texture without adding anything but sugar to it. When I read that I had to try it, because to tell you the truth I’m not a huge fan of sorrel Shandy’s or some of the sorrel juices I have tried. (Go ahead and gasp my Trini friends and family and hubby) I don’t know if they are just too sweet or to over seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. Not too sure but I will have to experiment with making juice and cocktails with it soon before the end of the season.
This jam is also seasoned lightly all the while preserving the strong and delicious sorrel flavour and tartness that I love. So go ahead and try it out if you have the fresh sorrel available. You will be impressed with how well the seed acts as a natural pectin! And then spread it over pancakes (my go-to pancake recipe is here with or without the blueberries) on toast with peanut butter, put it in cupcakes or tarts, have it with cheese and crackers…the list goes on!
Recipe for Sorrel (rosella flower) jam
Makes 2-3 medium sized jars
- 1.5-2 lbs of fresh sorrel
- Sugar granulated or Demerara — amounts explained in directions
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 cloves
Separate the flower and seed.
Rinse flowers and leave aside to drain
Place the seeds in a large pot and cover with about one inch of water above them
Bring to a boil then lower to a little more than a simmer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the seed becomes translucent. You will be able to see through outer membrane of seed.
Drain and keep liquid from seeds- discard seeds
Add the drained liquid (pectin) back to pot along with the flowers and cinnamon and cloves
Bring to a boil and as soon as it’s boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes then shut off heat and remove pot from stove
To determine how much sugar you will need you must remove the pulp or flowers with tongs into a measuring cup. Try to shake of most of the liquid but you don’t have to be too picky with it. Once you have measured all the pulp in cups you will know how much sugar to add. It’s 1:1 ratio pulp:sugar so 2 cups of pulp equals 2 cups of sugar ** also a good time to remove the cinnamon and cloves
Place the pulp back into the liquid in the pot and blend with an immersion blender or blend it in batches in a blender or food processor and return it back into the pot when done
Add your sugar and put the pot back on the stove on medium heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a low simmer stirring it often for approx 5-10 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon
Place in sterilized jars, allow to cool completely, seal and refrigerate