How to: make rosella jam
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Rosella is a fascinating member of the hibiscus family grown for its delicious calyx which makes irresistible jam.
Rosella is native to tropical Africa and it grows happily in arid, dry, subtropical and tropical climates. It should be planted in mid-spring and will leap into growth to be 2m high by Christmas with red-centred, lemon-yellow flowers which, like other hibiscus last just a day.
After flowering a succulent, red-wine coloured calyx forms around the lime-green seedpod. Plants produce a small first crop, which should be picked off and frozen to use later. This will encourage a much larger second flush in autumn, which will peter off with cold weather. The plant will die in the winter.
Six to ten plants will supply a bounty large enough for a year’s supply of delicious jam. Allow each plant one metre of full-sun space with well-drained, rich soil.
Remove first flush of flowers to increase the second flush.
Tip prune to encourage bushiness and more flowers.
In areas of poorly drained soils, prevent root rot by spraying with Antirot.
Save seeds for next year by allowing one or two fruiting pods to dry, split and mature. Freeze seeds in a glass jar overnight to prolong their life then store in a dry dark place until spring.
Where to buy
Some nurseries may have plants in mid-spring but online is a more reliable source. Try Daleys, www.daleysfruit.com.au for growing plants, or search for seed. Seed saving will ensure a good supply for future years (soak seeds overnight prior to sowing).
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Rosella jam recipe
This heirloom recipe comes from the mother of 97-year-old Beth Nudzik from Penshurst. She says you can order rosella fruit from your fruiterer in April. One box should be enough for 15-20 jars of jam.
What you need
6-7 cups of washed fruit
1 chopped green apple
juice of one lemon
4 cups of sugar
What to do
Bring the rosellas (green and red parts), apple and one cup of water to a gentle simmer. Strain the hot mixture, ensuring the holes in the sieve don’t allow the small white seeds through. Measure the pulp and add cup for cup the same amount of sugar. Add the lemon juice and boil till it gels, ie sets on a cold plate.
Text: Linda Ross