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ADE FOR SUMMER THIRST COMES FROM THE BUSH

July 1, 2001 – You can celebrate both Emancipation Day and Fourth of July with a cool glass of red hibiscusade.
The patriotic-looking bright red blooms of the hibiscus shrub are one of about 420 different island leaves, flowers and plants that are used to make traditional island bush teas. "Hibiscusade" is a bush tea with the refreshing citrus-y appeal of a limeade.
To make hibiscusade, pick the hibiscus blooms early in the morning when they are open and fresh. Eight to ten flowers easily make one quart of beverage, or figure two blooms per one-cup serving. (In days gone by, more blooms were used, the result being a thick, syrupy drink that was said to cure both coughs and colds.)
The key to making hibiscusade is to pour boiling water over the blooms. Heat magically leaches the redness from the petals into the water, thus making for a beautiful drink. Refrigerate the liquid to let it steep. When it's chilled, strain off the flowers, and flavor the liquid to taste.
Hibiscusade naturally has a mild, slightly bitter taste. Some recipes call for adding grated fresh ginger as flavoring. Most people add a sweetener such as table sugar, brown sugar, honey or an artificial sugar substitute. You also can mix hibiscusade 50/50 with cranberry juice as a sweetener, or with sparking water for a calorie-free fizz. Some even add a splash of rum!
Hibiscusade
8 to 10 red hibiscus blooms
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 quart water
Juice of 1 to 2 fresh limes
Sweetener to taste
Pluck and discard stamens from blooms. Rinse blooms in cool water and drain. Combine ginger and two cups water in a saucepan. Bring water to a boil and add blooms. Remove pan from heat, let cool about 10 to 15 minutes, then cover with a lid and refrigerate. Let blooms steep in water for at least two hours. Strain off liquid and discard blooms. Stir remaining 2 cups of water into liquid, and then add lime juice and sweetener of choice. Serve cold or over ice. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Note: Hibiscus blooms are considered to be a good source of vitamin C.

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