Dried Roselle Calyces
Roselle is native from India to Malaysia, where it is commonly cultivated, and must have been carried at an early date to Africa. It has been widely distributed in the Tropics and Subtropics of both hemispheres, and in many areas of the West Indies and Central America has become naturalized.
Roselle sauce or sirup may be added to puddings, cake frosting, gelatins and salad dressings, also poured over gingerbread, pancakes, waffles or ice cream. It is not necessary to add pectin to make a firm jelly. In fact, the calyces possess 3.19% pectin and, in Pakistan, roselle has been recommended as a source of pectin for the fruit-preserving industry.
Nutritionists have found roselle calyces as sold in Central American markets to be high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron.
Juice made by cooking a quantity of calyces with 1/4 water in ratio to amount of calyces, is used for cold drinks and may be frozen or bottled if not for immediate needs. In sterilized, sealed bottles or jars, it keeps well providing no sugar has been added. In the West Indies and tropical America, roselle is prized primarily for the cooling, lemonade-like beverage made from the calyces. This is still "one of the most popular summer drinks of Mexico", as Rose observed in 1899. In Egypt, roselle "ade" is consumed cold in the summer, hot in winter. In Jamaica, a traditional Christmas drink is prepared by putting roselle into an earthenware jug with a little grated ginger and sugar as desired, pouring boiling water over it and letting it stand overnight. The liquid is drained off and served with ice and often with a dash of rum. A similar spiced drink has long been made by natives of West Tropical Africa. The juice makes a very colorful wine.