Sunday, 27 October 2013

Farmers Market in Season

Island East Markets is a weekend event to eat snacks and buy organic veggies
This afternoon I checked out the Island East Markets in Quarry Bay, where booths are set up like a farmers' market. People can buy everything from organic produce to handmade soaps to crafts, baked goods sample wines. There's even some live entertainment if you don't mind Cantopop songs usually performed on TVB...

It was interesting to see the small selection of organic produce, such as lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, turnip... and then a few stalls selling a deep red, almost purple coloured flower called roselle or rosella flower, in Chinese 洛神花 (luo shen hua), a kind of hibiscus flower.

Fresh rosella flowers that are ideal for making jam
My relatives introduced me to it a few weeks ago when they bought a bag home from a market and I helped them peel the outer leaves called calyces to get the seed in the middle.

Then water was boiled to cook the seeds and after 10-15 minutes the concoction became quite thick. The seeds were taken out then the leaves were added back in to add the deep reddish-purple colour.

After simmering for a while the leaves disintegrated into the thick liquid and with a bit of sugar became a jam without the need of gelatin. It is tart, but not too sour and not too sweet either, and a bit fiberous. It works well as a syrup over vanilla ice cream, yogurt or even added to soda water for a refreshing drink.

The leaves when dried can also be boiled on its own to create a drink that's apparently good for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol as well as vitamin C. 

Rosella flowers are a kind of hibiscus that has health benefits
It's been such a hit at my relatives' place that they are getting creative and adding fruits like pineapple and Chinese pear into the jam.

Each week I visit them I'm a guinea pig taste testing a new concoction!

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