Ah roselle, a plant I had never once even thought about but after being mistakenly sent a pack in place of the chilies I had ordered they sat in my seed binder doing nothing, eventually I decided to create a seed mix and scatter them in my test site. They sprouted and grew above the pack, soon crowding out the others and forcing me to chop and drop my nitrogen fixers sooner then I would have. The continued to grow and grow all summer long, reaching over 6 feet in height, steadily growing long after most other plants had succumbed to the Florida summer heat and sun.
A month or so ago they started blooming. Erupting in beautiful pink blooms that caused this summer starved gardener to leap in joy!
After the blooms drop off a little calyx starts to form, eventually forming a large calyx around a round seedpod.
Once the calyxes open their tips they are ready for harvest. At this point your branches will be loaded. Mine all tipped over and drooped from the weight of the calyxes. I went through and harvested some of the ripe ones (maybe 1/5 of the total ripe calyxes)it filled to the brim a large basket full.
I rinsed the calyxes for about 10 minutes in cold water. After that I broke apart the calyx from the seedpod and placed into a large bowl. This was a job in itself and there are easier ways but i did not have the proper tool. I took 1/3 of the broken calyxes and boiled in 3 quarts of water creating a bright red lovely drink. I strained out the calyxes and set to the side, I mixed in 1/2 a cup of sugar for a 2 quart jug and it was perfect even my 4 year old drank it no questions asked. The remaining quart stayed in the pot for jam.
With those boiled calyxes from the drink I added the other broken calyxes into a large pot that held the boiled roselle drink (from above)there should have been a quart of red liquid left in the pan, I simmered the calyxes until soft and scooped 3/4s of them into a blender and created a red thick liquid I poured that back into the pot and used it to create a roselle jam. Oh my goodness is it tasty!!!!