In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

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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57 Comments

  1. Valerie Khan
    June 23, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    You forgot the pimento berries/allspice.

    • admin
      June 25, 2017 / 9:53 am

      no.. I’d never recommend adding such. But you’re free to do so in your recipe.. I respect that.

  2. February 11, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    Just made it….Cbristmas or not…..well there is lots of snow in Quebec, so why not!

  3. Craig
    November 21, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    My family always added a splash of Appleton gold rum!

  4. November 3, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    This is a favorite drink of mine that we use mainly at Christmas. Thanks for sharing this measured recipe with ginger included I must try it this way.

  5. Roz
    March 25, 2016 / 9:22 am

    Well good morning Chris Easter greetings to you and yours. Well it is Good Friday but my kitchen smells like Christmas Eve!!!!!!! Boiling sorrel and grating ginger for ginger beer. My American grand-daughter was introduced to sorrel and I always have a pack of the dried sorrel “in de cupboard”. Later I am making Hot Cross Buns for her since “the grocery buns really don’t taste right mama!” Like the American know the right taste. Lol

  6. Trini
    December 17, 2015 / 8:12 am

    Happy holiday Christmas. Love the recipes, i put a little more ginger in mines.

  7. Rosemarrie
    November 9, 2015 / 5:36 pm

    Add half bottle to full bottle of red wine to your Sorrel drink. That will kick it up a knotch but don’t take away the teast of Sorrel nor would you teast the wine they blend beautifully….

  8. Susi
    September 29, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    Just had to leave a comment since I JUST made some of this concentrate. I haven’t seen the fresh petals since I was a child…gosh, I even forgot they existed! Nevertheless, over here we get the dried stuff and to it I always add, cinnamon stick, cloves, pimiento gorda (allspice berries), ginger, (bay leaf if I remember or orange peel/slice of lemon.) Yes…it is fantastically refreshing! My picky kids really love this and apart from the sugar it has to be good for you, right? BTW, we eat the petals after I have strained the juice off…they are delicious and should be a dessert…try them.

  9. April 11, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    Awesome recipe for a good sorrel drink. Great job man, as usual. Thanks much for all your great recipes which make cooking a fun thing to do with the family.
    Kenny

  10. Hermilyn
    January 2, 2015 / 4:35 pm

    Happy New Year Chris thanks for the tasty recipies

    • admin
      January 2, 2015 / 4:42 pm

      Thanks Kindly! All the best to you and yours for the new year.

  11. November 21, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    Let Me just say hello , and that living here in Northern california , where we can have very hot summers and very cold , even freezing winter, (thank god no snow) I cant grow sorrel, even though I smuggled lots of seed in my luggage , last time when home to the Caribbean. So I am forced to buy whats seems to be from the Mexican market , which is very musty . Hahaha. Just a FYI, my mom used to not only add the orange peel , she also added some chunks of fresh ginger, and let it sit in a dark place and bringing it out in time for Christmas, where she would ad some rum to part of it for the adults . I must say the longer you let the sorrel drink sit once its been sweetened , the better it taste.. Smile. I guess I should admit I am an experimental booze maker,all kinds. …Smile

  12. October 3, 2014 / 1:35 pm

    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.

  13. May 25, 2014 / 2:17 pm

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

  14. MarieA
    December 17, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    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.

  15. LEANDRA LESLIE
    November 22, 2013 / 2:34 pm

    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….

  16. Dave M
    August 6, 2013 / 3:52 am

    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 πŸ˜‰

  17. Linda
    May 13, 2013 / 8:39 am

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

    • Dave M
      August 6, 2013 / 3:53 am

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

  18. Shane
    February 2, 2013 / 10:50 am

    I'm a Bajan now living in Florida. So I grew up drinking sorrel and love the stuff. My grandmother would make it every year and it seemed like some sort of black art, unknowable to mere mortals. After she died, we didn't get sorrel at Christmas anymore. I recently found a big West Indian grocery across town and they had tons of dried sorrel, so I picked up a few bags and found this post. So I have a full gallon batch steeping as I write this and man the house smells good. I think I'll break out a bottle of Mt Gay Extra Old with some later.

  19. athena
    January 28, 2013 / 9:08 pm

    Thanks for your helpful instructions on how to make Sorrel; I just got back from Barbados and while in the grocery picking up necessities, I stumbled upon a bag of organic dried sorrel so I brought it home as my special souvenir but had no idea how to prepare it. Just made a batch and can hardly wait for it to cool as it smells delicious. cheers!

  20. 'Kirah S.
    January 13, 2013 / 9:39 am

    Hi. Great website. Thanks for the food and drink recipes. Yummy!

  21. Dawn
    January 1, 2013 / 10:13 am

    Hi Chris thanks for your great website! Wonderful food and drinks always!

  22. Doland
    December 24, 2012 / 1:32 am

    Instead of just adding sugar, make a simple syrup with regular sugar and add to taste, this actually give the sorrel a little texture

  23. December 22, 2012 / 12:58 am

    going to make some sorrel…love your recipes and videos!

  24. Janice K
    December 8, 2012 / 3:45 pm

    Hi Chris, I am in Toronto and the dried sorrel I buy comes from Africa. It is very strong and makes a lovely drink. I use the sorrel twice as it is that strong. You have a great website, I was introduced to it today. Keep it up. Great work!!! From one Foodie to another. Keep the recipes coming.

    • Mary
      April 17, 2013 / 8:36 pm

      Hi Janice. Where do u buy ur African sorrel plz?

  25. Barry Eden
    November 25, 2012 / 12:38 pm

    Hi, Chris i'm from the Cayman Islands right next door to Jamaica! I have had sorrel drinks before but this will be my first time trying to make it after checking out your sorrel recipe. I hope to surprise my family this holiday season, thanks and God blest you.

  26. David Harvey
    October 25, 2012 / 1:07 pm

    I leave out the sugar so as to lessen the sweetness of the drink, but dried orange peel is GREAT. Sometimes I make it as you do, minus the sugar, then, after straining, add some white sugar, some uncooked white rice & some "strong rum" and let it sit, covered for 2-3 days. If you can, leave it in the refrigerator for a few years and you will have one of the best aperitifs ever.

  27. October 20, 2012 / 4:33 pm

    my friend just brought back a package of dried sorrel from Barbados…made in Egypt. going to use your recipe. nothing like a nice sorrel drink!

  28. Rogee Scott
    October 10, 2012 / 11:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing this and other recipes, I know I will enjoy this. When I can I hope to order your book. Good luck in all you do.

  29. SueC
    October 6, 2012 / 10:19 am

    To PatG: Try this place in New West, BC. I don't know if they do mail order.
    Caribbean Market at 804 – 12th Street, New Westminster, BC V3M 4K1
    They used to be at another location and moved here.

    • PatG
      September 8, 2013 / 2:07 am

      SueC

      I don’t often get in to New West, but tonight I went to a friend’s yearly fete and his mother-in-law mentioned the same place, and having sampled her sorrel drink it brought back so many memories it made me determined to make the trip in to New West before Xmas this year. I definitely need an infusion of sorrel, mauby and that wonder of wonders, married man pork and, if possible, Guyanese thyme. Thank you so much for the address and now I am really charged to make sure this Xmas is a proper one. All the best to you and yours.

  30. PatG
    September 11, 2012 / 8:22 pm

    Does anyone know of a good mail-order source of Caribbean products where I can get sorrel, Guyanese thyme, mauby bark, and, miracle of miracles, maybe even some dried "married man pork"? The ONLY West Indian market we had out here on the west coast of Canada shut down when the two elderly people running it finally had to retire.

  31. Friya
    July 5, 2012 / 7:47 pm

    This was a wonderful recipe! Thank you so much. I just had my second glass! I love ginger so I added a bit more and also some cranberry juice concentrate. Delicious! Delicious! Delicious!

  32. Sue
    June 3, 2012 / 6:52 pm

    A friend of mine from Guyana recommended that I try Sorell. So glad I did! Deeelicious! Thanks Chris. I think I'll try making your tamarind balls next.

  33. Joy
    May 28, 2012 / 9:16 pm

    Chris, this is one of my favorite drinks of all time. Have some in the fridge right now waiting to be sweetened. I don't wait for the holidays to drink it anymore. I take some to work and my "American" coworker loves it. He adds some "spirits" to his. lol

  34. CTM
    February 13, 2012 / 8:35 am

    Great recipe Chris. I start with the sugar but then use Cherry Syrup as I sweeten to taste. Also my mom puts Jamaican white overproof rum in hers but I make mine without alcohol then keep the rum on hand so folks can add if they like…..always a big hit!

  35. Tyeshya
    January 16, 2012 / 11:26 pm

    Awe yes the perfect recipe..I just had a nice refreshing glass of "adult sorrell" on New Year's Eve..it was very good and now I can make my own.. as long as I can find the sorrell of course because I have yet to here in Georgia but I will try the Markets.. Happy New Year Chris and thanks!

  36. Wendy Talbot
    January 16, 2012 / 7:06 pm

    Hi Chris, My Daughter And Her Husband Spent The Christmas Holidays In Jamaica,Guess What, They Bought Me Some Dried Sorrel. I Haven't Made Any Yet, But Will Do So Soon. Thanks For The Recipe.The Fragrance Is Awesome.

  37. grannyannie
    December 29, 2011 / 8:07 am

    Chris, I forgot to tell you I pour boiling water over the ingredients, and let them steep for a few days, the add the sugar to taste.

  38. grannyannie
    December 29, 2011 / 8:04 am

    Hello there Chris, I really love most of your recipes. Keep them comming. I like making my husband feel at home(Kingston, Jamacia). This Sorrel Drink is so beautiful in color for the Christmas Dinner and it taste real good. I've been making it for some time and used different ingredients to spice it up. I use the peel of an orange and a whole lot of ginger. Using more ginger gives this drink a strong pepper taste.

  39. Rooster
    December 28, 2011 / 8:01 pm

    Wahhh, I'm upset. I've had sorrel in the Islands and a while back, I have bought dried sorrel from Jamaica at my local grocery store here in CT. I went to buy some a couple of days ago and they don't carry it anymore!!! What am I going to do???? I suppose I could get some in the ethnic section of the city, but it's an hour's drive. I want some now!!!! πŸ™

  40. dor mcintosh
    December 25, 2011 / 9:14 am

    we use fresh sorrel in trinidad and tobago to make the drink on chistmas day and other drinks
    but brown sugar give the best tasty flavour

  41. Tuty
    November 13, 2011 / 8:28 pm

    Lynette, you can certainly use cane sugar. I used Chinese Rock Sugar whenever I make sorrel.

  42. SHeron
    November 13, 2011 / 5:50 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I discovered Sorrel in the ATL at a Jamacian Restaurant. I would like to know if I can't find the pedals, How should I use the Sorrel Syrup. I wanted to add some rum or wine to it…or maybe just Club Soda. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Joy
      May 28, 2012 / 9:13 pm

      The famer's markets in ATL have the dried sorrel petals that you can purchase. Check 285 Farmers Market on Covington Highway.

      • Dave M
        August 6, 2013 / 3:38 am

        You can find Sorrell (aka dried Hibiscus flowers) at many Latin American/Mexican markets if you cannot find a Caribbean market. Don't use the syrup… that's just nasty, refined garbage. It won't taste anything like the one from scratch.

  43. Lynette Ramjohn
    November 11, 2011 / 5:43 pm

    Hi Chris, Is it ok to use brown/cane sugar to sweeten the sorrel drink? I do not use white sugar at all, not even for baking cake.

    • PatG
      September 11, 2012 / 8:16 pm

      We used brown/cane sugar for years and loved it. Just use less, depending on how dark your brown sugar is. Very dark sugar has a lot of molasses still in it and that can change the flavour so you really have to go easy on that, but light brown/golden sugar is the best.

    • Dave M
      August 6, 2013 / 3:36 am

      Everyone should avoid white sugar… actually ALL sugar is bad for you. But if you're gonna use it, try to use the most raw, unrefined form. Brown or cane sugar is fine… I use honey in my homemade sorrel… or brown sugar if I'm out of honey. I'm sure you could even use stevia — it's the 21st Century, Folks — we gotta abandon some of our old ways. We now know that certain things are bad for us… go with the flow.

  44. carola
    November 8, 2011 / 1:11 am

    again,here is germany. i know hibiscus tea,since iam little,never liked it.we have it here in teabags,pour boiling water on it,leave for 5 minutes and drink.souer not really tasty. the way you do it sound lot more tasty,as soon as i find these flowers,i will try your way..specially now,winter is rolling in, with cinnamon and ginger it must be good hot drink…thanks for this

  45. Ruby
    November 7, 2011 / 5:04 pm

    I sure will try your drink because sorrel is mr favourite drink

  46. Sheldy Oscar
    November 6, 2011 / 3:04 pm

    thanks Chris didn't know u put ginger in sorrel…….i'll try it……i'm always looking to try something new. Even though i cook the same things that you do cause i'm from Trinidad we basically would know the same foods……. you always add something extra in every pot and when i try your version it gives my pot a different and much more tasty flavour. send me the recipe for spanish rice…..and also thanks for the step by step photos……..they let me know exactly how my food suppose to look…thanks again!!!!!

  47. Sue
    November 6, 2011 / 11:44 am

    Need rum!!!! Yummy!!!!

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