TAMPA, Fla. - The Florida cranberry, which is a relative of the hibiscus and okra, doesn’t look like a regular cranberry – but its tastes pretty similar and is the same color.
It’s actually not native to the Sunshine State. It originated from Central and West Africa, but is grown around the world, according to the University of Florida. Its leaves are edible and can be used in multiple dishes. The Florida cranberry is also called roselle, red sorrel or Jamaican sorrel.
You can learn more about Florida cranberries on the University of Florida's website or from the Florida Cranberry Alliance. It cannot be found at any grocery store. David Whitwam of Whitwam Organics suggested searching various farmer's markets. A list can be found on the Tampa Bay Markets' website.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, these recipes – a Jamaican sorrel drink or cranberry sauce – may be fitting for your holiday meal in Florida.
JAMAICAN SORREL DRINK
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.