Flor de Jamaica : The C-Bomb

I came across this recipe for a flor de jamaica jam (1) which made me giggle a little. You see, where I come from, C bomb is a most heinous swear word. This however was not the original authors purpose (I hope). The C Bomb being referred to is a large dose of vitamin C as provided by the calyxes of the hibiscus flower known in México as flor de jamaica. Now as a herbalist/naturopath I do believe that these flowers have medicinal utility (2) and the health benefits of drinking agua de jamaica daily (3) are proven (2). I would not however rely on it to supply an abundance of Vitamin C (see tables at bottom of this Post for Vitamin C content comparisons). The addition of rosehips to the recipe boosts the C content and adds to the medicinal qualities of the recipes primary purpose. The original author also recommended not consuming too much of the jam lest you activate its diuretic properties.

  1. mermelada
  2. see Post Flor de Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  3. without the addition of sugar of course



  • 1½ cups dried hibiscus flowers
  • ½ cup dried rosehips
  • ½ cup honey or agave syrup
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 or 2 chile de arbol


  1. Add hibiscus, rosehips, orange juice, and chile to a non-reactive saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil over medium heat. Turn down to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Put mixture in a blender or food processor, add agave or honey, and pulse to desired consistency.
  5. Transfer mixture to a clean jar and allow it to cool completely before putting a lid on.
  6. Refrigerate. Jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Take a spoonful when you need a dose of vitamin C.

Chile de arbol.
These are a fairly hot chile (no habanero by any means but quite hotter than a jalapeno)

I also love that author used pericón flower as a garnish (1). This will add a nice anise flavour and pericón itself is a valuable herbal medicine.

  1. See Post Pericón : Tagetes lucida

Vitamin C content of flor de jamaica and rosehips

Vitamin C content of Hibiscus sabdariffa. (quantities are per 100g of plant material)
(Georgieva etal 2014)
Vitamin C content of Rosehips (from various southern European locales
(Ropciuc etal 2011))

Comparing the two charts above for flor de jamaica and rosehips shows that the Vitamin C content of rosehips can be anywhere between 20 – 30 times that of the hibiscus calyxes; and comparing flor de jamaica with the chart below shows that the hibiscus calyxes have a similar Vitamin C content to that of a medium sized tomato (136g), 1/2 a cup (45g) of raw cabbage or 1/2 cup (72g) of blackberries.

Although I would not rely on flor de jamaica to provide a therapeutic dose of Vitamin C it is a valuable herbal medicine for other reasons (1). It should also be noted that Vitamin C is denatured by heat and that any long boiling will reduce the Vitamin C content of your hibiscus infusion (Bamishaiye etal 2011).

  1. see Post Flor de Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

(Rasmussen & Johnson 2013)

Flor de jamaica is also an ingredient in many herbal teas. The most famous of these is likely the Red Zinger tea. This tea has been around since at least 1972.

Ingredients Of Red Zinger Tea: Hibiscus, peppermint, rosehips, West Indian lemongrass, natural flavors, orange peel, lemon cherry bark.

Red Zinger tea.

Unfortunately they totally dropped the ball on this one by using a completely incorrect floral image on their packaging. The flower shown above is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.

Red Zinger Jelly

This is a basic jelly recipe. It can be tweaked by using different fruit juices (see notes on agar agar at bottom of recipe) or even by adding a liqueur of some variety. Other ingredients such as fruits or citrus zest can be used to add layers of flavour.


The setting agent

  • 3 tsp agar agar OR
  • 3 teaspoons gelatine OR
  • 1 gelatine sachet (8g/1 sachet is roughly equivalent to four gelatine leaves)

1 cup water (see notes for preparation)

2 Red Zinger tea bags

1 cup (250ml) apple juice


Prepare and dissolve gelatine or agar as per package instructions.

  • Gelatine preparation: dissolve gelatine in 1 cup of boiling water, then add apple juice and sugar. Steep tea bags for 5 minutes and then remove from the liquid and discard the teabags. Refrigerate to set.
  • Agar preparation: Add agar powder and water into saucepan, heat until dissolved (bring to the point of boiling and then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes). Add sugar and apple juice, steep tea bags in liquid for 5 minutes and then discard the teabags. Chill overnight, or 24 hours to completely set.

As a general rule, you can substitute powdered agar for gelatine in equal amounts. So if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of gelatine, you can use one teaspoon of agar powder and this will set one cup of liquid. The beauty of agar is that it will set outside of the fridge at temperatures that are too warm for gelatine to set (27°C – 80.6°F)

Agar agar is a plant-based gelatine derived from red algae (seaweed) that has been popular across Asia for centuries. The white and semitranslucent vegetable gelatin is sold in flake, powder, bar, and strand form, and can be used in dairy-free, gluten free and vegan recipes as a stabilizing and thickening agent.

  • Use 0.9g agar agar powder to 100ml of neutral liquid
  • Use 1.3g of agar agar powder to 100ml of acidic liquid

This is the brand of agar agar that I use

Why mess about with plain ole jelly? How about we make some Jello shots?

Flor de Jamiaca Jello Shots

We can do this with the zinger tea as above or instead make our own flor de jamaica syrup which can then be used for other things (including cocktails) or the refreshing street drink agua de jamaica.

First make your flor de Jamaica syrup:

Hibiscus syrup:

  • 1/2 cup dried flor de jamaica
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Place the flowers and the water into a non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel or pyrex NOT aluminium). Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out the flowers and return the liquid to the pot. Add your sweetener and dissolve. Chill before using.

Make your shots

Ingredients : Makes 12(ish) hibiscus margarita Jello Shots

  • ¼ cup Jamaica syrup
  • 1/3 cup blanco tequila
  • 3 tablespoons triple sec
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 package lime (or orange) flavoured jelly 


  1. Pour the box of lime Jello into a large mixing bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk until the gelatine is dissolved.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  3. Pour the mixture into 12 plastic Jello shot cups and chill until completely set.


  • Bamishaiye, E & Olayemi, F.F. & Bamishaiye, O. (2011). Effects of Boiling Time on Mineral and Vitamin C Content of Three Varieties of Hibiscus sabdriffa Drink in Nigeria. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences. 7.
  • Georgieva, Silvia & Angelov, George & Boyadzhieva, Stanislava. (2014). Concentration of vitamin C and antioxidant activity of rosehip extracts. Journal of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy. 49. 451-454.
  • Mármol, I., Sánchez-de-Diego, C., Jiménez-Moreno, N., Ancín-Azpilicueta, C., & Rodríguez-Yoldi, M. J. (2017). Therapeutic Applications of Rose Hips from Different Rosa Species. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(6), 1137. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18061137
  • Naturland e.V. (2004) Organic Farming in the Tropics and Subtropics Exemplary Description of 20 Crops. 1st ed. Germany
  • Oprica, L., Bucsa, C., & Zamfirache, M. M. (2015). Ascorbic Acid Content of Rose Hip Fruit Depending on Altitude. Iranian journal of public health, 44(1), 138–139.
  • Qi, Yadong & Chin, Kit & Malekian, Fatemeh & Berhane, Mila & Gager, Janet. (2005). Biological Characteristics, Nutritional and Medicinal Value of Roselle, Hibiscus Sabdariffa. CIRCULAR – Urban Forestry Natural Resources and Environment No. 604.
  • Rasmussen, Helen & Johnson, Elizabeth. (2013). Nutrients for the aging eye. Clinical interventions in aging. 8. 741-748. 10.2147/CIA.S45399.
  • Ropciuc, S., Cenușă, R., Cǎpriţǎ, R., & Crețescu, I. (2011). Study on the Ascorbic Acid Content of rose Hip fruit Depending on Stationary Conditions.
  • Singh P, Khan M, Hailemariam H. (2017) Nutritional and health importance of Hibiscus sabdariffa : a review and indication for research needs. J Nutr Health Food Eng.;6(5): DOI: 10.15406/jnhfe.2017.06.00212

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