Australian Bush Food


Botanical name: Hibiscus sabdariffa
Family: Malvaceae
Other names: Wild Rosella Roselle

Hibiscus sabdariffa is an introduced species to Australia that is now naturalised in the tropical areas of Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory. This plant has been added to the list of native Australian bush food species. The naturalised population found in northern areas of Australia (coastal Northern Territory and Cape York) is believed to have been brought from islands to the north of Australia before European settlement.

In 1892 there were 2 factories which produced a jam made from Rosella in Queensland which exported considerable quantities to Europe. However this was a short lived enterprise and by 1909 there was no more than 4 acres (1.6ha) of edible Rosella left in Queensland. Today, Rosella is gaining the attention of the food and beverage industries due to the possibilities of this product as a natural food product and as a colorant to replace some synthetic dies.

Dried Hibiscus flowers contain up to 30% of plant acids. The main components are citric acid (12% to 20%) and Hibiscus acid (up to 15%). Other plant acids such as malic acid (2% to 9%) and tartaric acid (8%) are also found. Hibiscus flowers contain polysaccharides (approximately 15%) and pectins (approximately 2%) which cause an enhance viscosity in the aqueous Hibiscus Extract. Further components are phytosterols, sugar and starch, contained at approximately 1%. Hibiscus flowers gain their dark red colour to anthocyans.
Hibiscus Powdered Extract has a pleasantly sour taste and is a deep red powder. It is a spray dried product obtained by extraction of hibiscus flowers with demineralised water.

This product is soluble in water. When consumed in larger quantities Hibiscus has a mildly laxative effect, due to its relatively high content of plant acids. This product has a shelf life of 12 months when kept stored in a dry place between 15-20°C, protected from light in original container.

Tea preparations made from Hibiscus are refreshing and are also visually appealing due to their dark red colour. It is often combined with Rosehips and other fruits and herbs. Hibiscus is also used in sorbets, candies, syrups, jellies, jams, chutneys and other beverages such as cordials and cocktails. Due to its intense red colour it can also be used in crafts such as candle making.

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