Last week I introduced my ingredient of the month: flor de jamaica–hibiscus. One thing I love about jamaica is that it is not a seasonal ingredient. You can find it during any time of the year, and it can be used in so many ways! Once you try it, your imagination will begin to spin thinking about the limitless recipes where it could be incorporated.
Today, I give you a classic use for this ingredient–agua de jamaica (hibiscus water). In Mexico, aguas frescas or aguas de sabor are “waters” or juices that are made using fresh fruits and vegetables. Since Mexico has such an abundance of fresh produce, it only makes sense that it would be put to good use. Some of the most common aguas frescas are horchata (rice milk), tamarindo (tamarind), limón (lime), sandía (watermelon), melón (cantaloupe), and of course, jamaica (hibiscus).
The first time I ever tried agua de jamaica was at UDLAP, where I took several summer courses. I remember the university staff serving us this for lunch on the lawn, and I recall thinking, “Wow, this is the best tasting cranberry juice I’ve ever had.” I proceeded to ask what it was and soon learned about the amazing ingredient that produced this ruby red drink.
Of course, I was so enchanted by jamaica that it made its way into my suitcase along with that coveted pan dulce back in 2007. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait too long before I was able to find flor de jamaica in Pittsburgh.
Today, I love introducing people to agua de jamaica. Everyone loves the flavor and family and friends constantly ask me how to make it and where they can find flor de jamaica.
Below is a simple recipe that I follow. Sometimes I adjust the amounts depending on how sweet, tart, or strong I want it to taste. You can use this recipe as a starting point and then change it however you’d like.
I hope you find it just as delicious as I do! (PS…it’s healthy, too..especially if you make it with little sugar 😉
Agua de jamaica
Click here for printable recipe.
Agua de Jamaica (Makes about 10 cups, about ½ gallon)
1 cup dried jamaica (hibiscus) flowers*
About 11 cups of water, divided
¾ cup sugar
→Put dried jamaica and 8 CUPS (2 quarts) of cool water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
→Simmer for 20 minutes to rehydrate the flowers. Turn off heat.
→Pour through a strainer into a glass container to separate flowers from liquid. Discard flowers or save them to use later in a different dish.
→Immediately add sugar to the hot jamaica “tea.” Stir until sugar is dissolved.
→Once the sugar is dissolved, add 3 CUPS of cold water to cool down the tea. Stir.
→Refrigerate and serve over ice.
- *Hibiscus flowers can be found at many Latin American grocery stores. If not, you can usually find them as a tea in larger grocery stores. Jamaica also sold online. For more information about jamaica, click here.