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FOOD & DRINK: It’s Always A Good Time of Year To Enjoy A Sorrel Drink Here

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CHRISTIANSTED — This drink has been a force on the St. Croix scene for donkey years.

Visit the homes of any Virgin Islands families especially during the holiday season and you will be sure to find a pitcher or two of this chilled, crimson-colored drink sitting pretty.

Popularly known as a health food drink, sorrel is made from the dried or fresh sepals of the bright red and sometimes crimson-colored flower.

This annual plant which takes about six months to mature is usually harvested in the festive months of November, December and early January. During this period, the drink is made and consumed the most hence its name “Holiday Drink.”

In later years, it was realized that the dried sepals of the flower could also be used for the drink and it could be consumed all year round.

Much like the origin of some foods like okra and yam which were brought to the Caribbean from Africa during the slave trade, the “Hibiscus Sabdariffa” or Roselle plant also has its roots in West Africa.

Most of these plants manage to thrive in the Caribbean region due to favorable weather conditions that are very similar to the weather in Africa.

There are so many cultural variations to making sorrel drink and it is available all year round at many health food specialty stores in the territory.

Some cultures add a lot of ginger and local spices to taste. Others even make cocktail variations by adding rum and other forms of alcohol.

Sorrel drink is still very popular in West African countries especially Ghana where it is called “sobolo” and in Nigerian where it is called “zobo.”



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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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