Zobo & Grape Juice Drink

The hibiscus flower (also known as sorrel, roselle or zobo in Nigeria) produces a really healthy drink which is delicious served either hot or cold. (Read more about zobo/sorrel, roselle here).

In fact, I consider this drink a tonic because it has all the characteristics required to categorize it as such. From its intense deep pink colour to its very sharp taste, this drink is most suitable to make a really seductive and refreshing drink that you can have any time of the day; a hot tea in the morning or a refreshingly chilled drink on a sunny summer day.

A well made hibiscus flower drink promises to deliver a range of vitamins and minerals and the all important anti-oxidants....(check out the nutritional profile for this wonder plant in one of my previous posts here)

So we well understand that zobo is good for health. The only concern is how it is made. Scientifically speaking, the method we use to process zobo leaves and the other ingredients we choose to add, can have a great impact on the resulting drink.

Funke Koleosho's Zobo & Grapes
Traditionally, the zobo leaves are boiled for a prolonged amount of time to extract maximum essence from them. The drink is also unwittingly over loaded with a lot of white sugar (in a bid to reduce the tartness), which technically now makes the drink not so healthy. The high heat involved in the process also depletes the drink of some vital nutrients. So it appears the process, kind of defeats the purpose for which this drink is drunk and enjoyed.

I figured there had to be a less intense method of processing the leaves in a way that most of its nutritional benefits remain intact.

There are three issues to address during processing:
Overheating: This issue is addressed by heating the leaves under low heat only, ensuring it does not get to boiling point. The heating will be enough to kill off any unwanted microbes present in the leaves. The heat will also be just enough to soften the dried out leaves in readiness for yielding their essence.

Extracting maximum essence from the leaves: Straight after heating, transferring the leaves into a food blender and blending helps to cut through the leaves enabling the quicker release of the essence. Be careful though not to blend into a smoothie. After blending, transfering into a jar and allowing to steep for a while also helps. This will ensure maximum essence extraction.

Making it delicious: "deliciousness" is relative. I never use sugar as a sweetener, instead I use juices of naturally sweet fruits typically pineapple, apple or sugar cane. I have also used natural honey on occasions. Really, one needs to explore the use of different spices and herbs which you can add to heighten the taste.

In this post, I share another twist which I find really exciting, different, delicious and above all, one which makes me confident that the resulting drink is still very much potent.

Chilled Zobo & Grape Juice Drink

Check it out below:

What you need
  • Really ripe grapes (seeded or seedless). Pick them off the stalk and wash thoroughly
  • Sorrel leaves
  • Fresh ginger
  • Lime
  • Ground or stick cinnamon 

What to do
  1. Give the sorrel leave quick wash in some fresh cold water. This will help to remove chaff and other debris. Then add transfer leaves into a large pot. Add at least 3 cups of hot water. The more leaves used the more concentrated the drink will be. Adjust water/leave ratios to your preference. Allow to heat up under low heat for about 10 minutes. 
  2. Then transfer into a blender and add the ginger and about 1 teaspoon or an inch stick of cinnamon. Also add the grapes. Remember the grapes serve as the main sweetener so the amount you add depends on how sweet you what the resulting drink to taste. Blitz all ingredients together ensuring not to fully blend. 
  3. Transfer into a large jug and allow to infuse for as long as you can allow. 
  4. Did you know that lime also has an alkalizing effect on the body? So, optionally, you can add a squeeze of one or two limes. Serve chilled on the rocks, garnish with some lime slices.

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