Sunday, June 04, 2006

Making Jamaica

I tried out the recipe over on for jamaica, a Mexican agua fresca (the name translates literally to "fresh water"; aguas frescas are a blend of fruit, sugar, and water) made from hibiscus blossoms. I used 3 ounces of the hibiscus flowers, 1 cup of sugar, and a gallon of water. To start, I got the water to a boil, then added the hibiscus and sugar. Once it returned to a boil, I let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes, then strained out the hibiscus flowers and let it chill. It turned out pretty good, but I think it could be stronger on hibiscus and definitely sweeter too; it had a light, pleasant sweetness, but didn't have the right sweetness level to taste like every other agua fresca that I've had. I know that next time it would greatly help to have a lid on the pot, I lost almost a quart of water to the combination of evaporation and the hibiscus absorbing liquid. Speaking of which, one of these times I'll try squishing down the hibiscus to get some good concentrated flavor back into the pitcher where it belongs.

I'd like to try fixing the sweetness and strength levels at the same time, but I would prefer to fix one variable at a time in the recipe. The first will be adjusting sweetness, then seeing if pressing the hibiscus will make for a stronger end product, then finally adjusting the amount of hibiscus leaves. In Cook's Country, they just published a recipe for some positively delicious lemonade, and it uses 1/2 cup of sugar for every 3 cups of liquid; I think I'll do 2 cups of sugar next time, and go from there.