The hottest new flavor on the culinary scene is bright red in colorâ€”but it’s not pomegranate or cranberry, it’s hibiscus. And it’s blooming on menus in restaurants and bars, and popping up on supermarket shelves. Hibiscus has become the newest â€˜flavor of the month.â€™
Judy Hevrdejs, writing for Tribune newspapers, spotted a â€˜bunchâ€™ of hibiscus-flavored examples.
OOBA bottled sparkling beverages come in hibiscus, hibiscus with lime, and hibiscus with orange. Rain Organics Vodka offers a red grape-hibiscus variety. Gran Centenario flavors its Rosangel tequila with hibiscus. Hint flavored water offers Hibiscus-Vanilla and Honeydew Hibiscus varieties.
Wild Hibiscus flowers in syrup are imported from Australia (for dropping into champagne and other sparkling beverages).
Some chefs have been know to prepare things like hibiscus-poached rhubarb, and you can now buy oolong-hibiscus tea by the canister in Big Bowl restaurants.
According to the Tribune article, the â€˜hibiscusâ€™ listed on labels of the newer products is not necessarily the same flower as the one blooming in your garden. Kyle Wallick, a botanist with the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., says â€˜the scientific name is hibiscus sabdariffa.â€™ What’s used in most of the beverages is the calyx, â€˜the outer shell of the flower,â€™ he says. It turns red and is kind of fleshy, and has â€˜a sort of sour, lemonade-y taste.â€™
If you’re looking for today’s â€˜Itâ€™ flavor, hibiscus just might be…it.
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