|The flamboyant hibiscus and healthy rosehip, elderflower and vanilla bean flavour this aromatic vinegar. A sprinkling of hibiscus-infused vinegar adds a healthy piquancy to dressings, summer fruits and salsa.
HIBISCUSIt’s known as roselle, Jamaican water, karkady and bissap; is made from the sepals of the flower and consumed worldwide. It’s bursting with vitamin C, caffeine free, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure and enriches the immune system. It is delicately perfumed, a lovely colour and has a tantalizing flavour. This magic herb? The resplendent hibiscus.
ELDERFLOWERThe healing properties of the elderflower (Sambucus nigra) include reducing chest ailments, fever and inflammation. Culinary uses: in wine, jam, chutney and vinegar. For a dessert that’s completely different, serve elderflower fritters with a scoop of gooseberry and elderflower ice-cream. Use only the flowers, because the leaves and branches are poisonous if consumed.
VANILLAThe Melipona bee, native to Mexico, is the only creature that pollinates vanilla flowers naturally. Small wonder raw vanilla is so expensive, second only to saffron. Vanilla makes an excellent insecticide and removes difficult-to-shift odours, such as those caused by sour milk. The extract gives immediate relief from burns. Vanilla flavours pastries and desserts, seasons pork, augments crab and scallop dishes and reduces acid in tomato sauces.
ROSEHIPWhen a rose bloom dies, the remaining fruit is called rosehips. The taste, reminiscent of cranberries, is piquant. Use rosehips in savory and sweet spreads; to flavour bread and pastry; or add to soups and stews. Remove the fine hairs before cooking. Rosehip tea is crisp, blending well with mint or hibiscus flowers. Rosehips contain abundant Vitamins C, D and E, and make an excellent blood purifier. Use rosehips for respiratory infections, gastrointestinal discomfort and to boost the immune system.