I discovered hibiscus tea very recently, and was surprised by its tart flavour, and its beautiful colour.
In this recipe, some of the strong concentrated liquid from seeping my iced tea recipe is turned, with a couple of additional ingredients, into jam.
There’s a (strong) debate at home about whether berries are in or berries are out (or our diet)… and for us they’re out… for now at least.
But this hibiscus jam offers the colour, tart and sweetness of traditional sugar-packed jams, minus the sugar.
You can leave the chia out, but apart from its innate beneficial qualities (fibre, Omega-3, anti-inflamatory…), the chia gives the jam a more solid and bitty consistency, as you get in berry jams. Without it you’ll end up with a smooth jelly, which I personally find a bit odd.
I’ve used agar agar to thicken the jam in replacement of the fruit’s pectin (which is a sugar), but you could use gelatin as well – refer to the pack’s instructions for quantities. I like mine quite runny, but increase the amount of agar agar if you want yours more solid.
The quantity of agar agar I used (1 tsp) gives you a definitely runny jam (see photo below). If you want yours to be so thick you can cut into it with a spoon, try using double the amount. If you’ve gone too far you can add a tiny bit of boiling water and stir vigorously to incorporate; if once it’s cooled it’s not thick enough put it back in the pot, add a bit more agar agar.
- 5g of hibiscus tea leaf *
- 250ml water *
- 3 tbsp xylitol
- 1 tsp agar agar
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
* If you have some hibiscus iced tea you can use 250ml this as your starting base.
If not, start by making the hibiscus tea. You can also make it by placing the leaves in boiling water from the kettle, but the method below delivers a more concentrated tea.
So, place the hibiscus leaves in a small pot, pour the cold water over them and bring it to a boil.
As soon as the water boils, lower the heat and simmer for 10min or so. Then, turn off the heat and let it cool a bit for 10min or so.
Strain the tea, saving the leaves to make hibiscus leaf sugar if you want (how-to at the bottom of this page).
Return the strained hibiscus tea back to the saucepan, add the xylitol and slowly start to bring it to a gentle simmer. Taste for sweetness. You want the jam to be sweet, but still keep some of the tartness from the hibiscus.
Once the sweetener has dissolved, add the agar agar, stir to dissolve, and keep a very gentle simmer for 8min or so, stirring frequently.
By now it should be very slightly thicker, but still rather liquid. Now add the chia seeds, stir well to combine, and simmer for another 5min or so.
It’s difficult to assess the consistency of this jam as it cooks, as the chia and agar settle as they cools, and the “cold plate jam test” doesn’t quite work here. My general rule of thumb is 1tsp of agar agar gives you a slightly runny jam; if you want it thicker, increase the amount.
Once it’s cooked for 5minutes pour the hot jam into a clean, sterilised jar, put the lid back on, and let cool completely.
You want to store it in the fridge and eat within a couple of weeks, unless you properly follow the sterilisation process.
It’s great spread on toast, mixed with yoghurt or kefir, and even dolloped into thumbprint cookies.