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Slow food: Wild rosella harvest and simple jam recipe

I’d seen rosella jam for sale at the markets before, but never considered making it myself. I didn’t realise how simple it was to make. So when a friend here in Kununurra, Andrea, recently told me about a patch of rosellas in bloom and a simple recipe to make jam, I couldn’t resist giving it a go.

Collecting wild rosella and making jam

Also known as the bush hibiscus (hibiscus sabdariffa), rosella grows wild around Kununurra and the Kimberley in well drained soil. It’s considered an environmental weed because it’s not native to the kimberley, having possibly come over from Africa or Sri Lanka.

Wild rosella. Pic by Beth Ironside.

Apart from being gorgeous to look at, it’s also edible and high in vitamin c and antioxidants.

Thanks to my friend, Andrea, I recently found myself wandering amongst a large patch of ripe rosella, ready to be picked and turned into jam. I was joined by friends Louella and Katrina, plus Katrina’s three sweet daughters Sophine, Annabelle and Georgia. Beth was on hand to take photos and video (thanks Beth!) See below for Katrina’s simple rosella jam recipe!

In my happy place. And my fave hat matches! Pic by Beth Ironside.

4 INGREDIENT ROSELLA JAM

Wash fruit and pull off petals

  • First, fill your sink with water and soak the rosella fruit. Give the fruit a good wash to remove any bugs.
  • Next, we need to separate the red calyx from the seedpod. You can pick the red petals off one by one, or use an apple corer. After you’ve done this, give the petals a good rinse again for any final bugs. 
Rosella seedpods. Pic by Beth Ironside.

Boil seedpods

  • Put all the green seedpods in a saucepan and cover them with water. During this process, the pods will release something called pectin, which is natural and eliminates the need for a setting agent. 
  • Bring to boil and cook covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Strain and reserve the juice in a second saucepan.  You can now throw out the seedpods.

Boil the calyxes (red petals)

  • To the seedpod juice, add the red petals and boil for 20 minutes until a ‘pulp’ is formed. 
  • Measure the volume of cooked pulp and return to pan. (measurement is needed for step 9)
Boil the calyxes. Pic by Beth Ironside.

Add butter, lemon and sugar. Enjoy your jam!

  • Add one good teaspoon of butter and the juice of one lemon.
  • Add an equal amount of sugar to the pulp.  So, add 1 cup of sugar to each cup of pulp, stirring well till all the sugar is completely dissolved. 
  • Boil quickly uncovered for 20 minutes or until jam falls thickly from a spoon when tested.
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