Turn your Florida cranberries into a Jamaican sorrel, or cranberry sauce

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The Sunshine State itself can be described as unique and unusual, and its cranberries are no different.

Florida cranberries don't look like regular cranberries, but they taste similar and are the same color. The fruit is part of the okra family with cranberry-colored edible leaves that can be used in multiple dishes. Ironically, the Florida cranberry -- which is also called roselle, red sorrel or Jamaican sorrel -- is actually native to Central and West Africa. However, it is grown around the world, according to the University of Florida.

You can learn more about Florida cranberries -- also known as roselle or Jamaican sorrel -- on the University of Florida's website or from the Florida Cranberry Alliance.

The plant cannot be found at any grocery store. David Whitwam of Whitwam Organics suggested poking around at various farmer's markets, such as the ones listed on Tampa Bay Markets' website.

If you do find them, you can make a Jamaican sorrel drink or a cranberry sauce for your Florida Christmas.


SERVINGS: Makes 6 cups

1 cup Florida cranberry, removed from pods, chopped (can be fresh or frozen)
6 cups water
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar
Peel of 1 orange
3 tbsp. ginger paste
Spiced rum, white rum, or red wine (optional)

1) Place all ingredients (minus alcohol) in a saucepan or pot and bring mixture to a boil.
2) Turn off heat and let mixture steep for at least 20 minutes.
3) Strain mixture and let chill in the fridge.
4) Can serve on ice, and spiked, if desired.

FLORIDA CRANBERRY SAUCE: The following recipe yields 1 cup of sauce, so adjust measurements as necessary.

2 cups Florida orange juice
2 cups of Florida cranberry calyces, chopped (Remove and discard seed pods, chop calyces--the red part. I found that about a dozen "berries" yield about a cup when chopped.)
7 tbsp. Florida honey
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cardamom

1) In a pot, on high heat, bring orange juice to a boil.
2) Add spices, honey, and Florida cranberries. Be sure the seed pods are removed and the calyces are chopped.
3) Once mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until sauce is thick (about 15 minutes), stirring frequently.
4) Transfer to serving dish and chill in the fridge.