Categorized | Bits and Bites, Drinks

A Refreshing Spiced Caribbean Sorrel Drink.

When our daughters were younger I remember that whenever anyone was coming to visit from Trinidad and Tobago they always had a few bottles of Sorrel Shandy in their suitcase for them. Especially Tehya, who felt grown-up drinking from a bottle which looked similar to a beer bottle. My memories of sorrel (the drink and not the salad greens) is one of much joy, especially since it’s a drink most people from the Caribbean associate with the holiday season around Christmas.

My mom and dad would always plant sorrel between their corn and pigeon peas in the garden and come the later part of the year is when the flowers would be in full bloom and ready for harvesting. The flowers of the plant is what’s used for making the sorrel drink. In the recipe below I’ll be using dried sorrel which is commonly available in most West Indian and some Asian markets as I couldn’t source fresh sorrel petals. This will also serve to prove that sorrel does not have to be a drink enjoyed around Christmas time as the dried sorrel works just as great as the fresh stuff and is available all year long.

Before we get to the recipe I must mention that if you use less water and no sugar (as mentioned in the recipe) you can make a concentrated syrup, which you can bottle and keep in the fridge for quite a while. Then all you do when you’re ready for a refreshing glass of sorrel on a hot day, is to pour some out, add sugar and water and you’re good to go.

You’ll Need…

2 cups dried sorrel
8 cups water
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup sugar (see note below)
4 cloves

Note: I started off with 1 cup of sugar, but ended up using 2 cups. I only mentioned 1 in the recipe since your tolerance for sugar will be a bit different than mine. This way we have a starting point to which you can use as a gauge to add more (to your liking).

This is a very simple recipe, which does need a bit of time and patience since the sorrel must steep to release all it’s wonderful flavors.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, then add all the ingredients to the pot. Bring back to a boil and reduce the heat to a rolling boil. Allow this to boil for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow this to steep for at least 4 hours (overnight would be best).

Next up, strain the contents into a juice jug and add more sugar as needed (see note above). You can store this in the fridge for about a week… if you don’t finish it before then.

* You can certainly add more cinnamon and cloves if you want to give it a more ‘spiced’ flavor and if memory serves me correctly, I believe my dad would also put some dried orange peel when boiling. I add my sugar when the water is hot so it dissolves faster… just my way of doing things. If you want a grown-up version you can always add a shot or two of dark rum or vodka to your glass.

Here’s the video I did when I put this sorrel recipe together:

Before you go I invite you to leave me your comments below.. even if it just to say hello. It’s always appreciated. And don’t forget to join us on facebook and do check out the cooking videos.

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44 Responses to “A Refreshing Spiced Caribbean Sorrel Drink.”

  1. Hi Chris, Sorrel is made from the sepals of the FRUIT of the Sorrel NOT from the flowers. This is a common error, just as referring to Sorrel as Hibiscus Flowers is erroneous. The flowers of the Sorrel plant look just like Hibiscus Flowers as the plants are related. However, Sorrel that is used dried or fresh to make this delicious drink is made from the beautiful fruit which now comes in white as well as red and white striped varieties, developed at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Services in the USVI.
    Thank you for sharing your love of Caribbean cooking.

  2. nicole says:

    I luv sorrel. Has to remember to try it with ginger

  3. MarieA says:

    I made this a few days ago and my husband who is Guyanese said the house was smelling like Christmas back home. My Guyanese in-laws told me that I have been officially converted to Guyanese.My husband said the boiling time you used was perfect because it didn’t make it too strong. The only change I made was I used more ginger. A used a piece about the size of my thumb and it was perfectly spiced.

  4. LEANDRA LESLIE says:

    your recipes are wonderful im gonna try the polourie i grew up in Trinidad but never tried to make it but i loved it but now im bigger and in a different country with kids i gonna try that boy .thanks for all the infor and looking forward to more….

  5. Dave M says:

    My version:
    Fill a pot twice as big as the one shown in this photo (about 20 cups of water)…. boil the water, meanwhile shave the skin off of a ginger root (the size of your hand). Score the root many times, including some deep cuts into root without chopping it into pieces… keep it in large chunks or one whole piece if possible.

    Allow that root to "cook" on high (almost boil) for about an hour. You will get lots of flavor & juices out of the root this way. Next add either a few cloves or a few anise stars AND one cinnamon stick to the water… meanwhile, get your packages of sorrel ready to join the pot. Finally add, the dried flowers to the pot & turn off the flame.

    I don't feel the need to boil the contents of the pot once you've added the hibiscus flowers (sorrel)… As long as the water is very hot (almost boiling) it will work just fine. Cover the pot & you allow the pot of contents to steep nice & long (approx. one hour). Then remove the ginger pieces, cinnamon stick, anise stars and/or cloves — strain the "tea" so it is free of any floating contents.

    Add about 3 cups of brown sugar or 20 ounces of honey… sweeten to your preference.
    Chill in the refrigerator till cold — I think it's the best Sorrel in all o' BROOKLYN, NY ;-)

  6. Linda says:

    It is possible that the extra sugar is required because you are sweetening with the sorrel in the pot.

    • Dave M says:

      Yes, it's very important to remove all of the ingredients (besides the "tea") before you add the sweetener. Very important step!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] the tables.  I also picked up a package of hibiscus flower sepals, to make a spicy red drink called sorrel, with fresh ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks.   This particular ` red flower`seems […]


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