This makes an unexpected drink to serve porch-side visitors. With its beautiful color and sweet-tart cranberrylike flavor, guests will want to know where you had to go to find hibiscus pods, how interesting (and easy) it was to make, and talk about the sheer fact that hibiscus is edible. Be aware that with its deep red coloring, you shouldn’t use a light-colored tablecloth.
4 quarts water
2 cups dried hibiscus flower pods (see note)
2 cups superfine sugar
Fresh hibiscus pods for punch cups or hibiscus flower to float in punch bowl (optional)
Add the water and dried hibiscus to a large nonaluminum Dutch oven. Cover and let stand at least 2 hours.
Uncover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 6 to 8 minutes.
Strain through a sieve, discarding the solids. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Refrigerate until well chilled.
Pour into small cocktail glasses filled with ice. Garnish, if desired.
Note: Hibiscus pods or dried flowers are known as Jamaica (“ha-myee-kah”) in Mexican and Caribbean markets.
Do tell: Hibiscus—often used to make jams, jellies, and sauces—is rich in Vitamin C.
Excerpted from Porch Parties by Denise Gee Copyright © 2009 by Denise Gee. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.