Nigerian Condiments: Zobo/ Hibiscus Jelly

Failure doesn’t faze me.

Its nothing new.

Jams that won’t set are ….mere vestiges of the past.

I forge on….determined.

This Zobo Jelly is an example in point.

Nigerian Zobo Jelly

I went back to the drawing board and ended up with something that was and is worthy of any table.

I made sure to omit every trace of pineapple in the recipe concept and execution.

And I ended up with a ‘sauce’ that is the epitome of all I love in condiments – sweet, sour, hot and tasty.

The idea to make this jelly however began with my friend, Deepa of Paticheri. Earlier in the year, she’d made a version of the fresh Hibiscus calyxes. I was in awe. First of all, that was the first time I’d seen the source of the ‘Zobo’ flowers – what they looked like….

Roselle Flowers; Courtesy Deepa of Paticheri

….but also because of how wonderful the resulting jam sounded. Delicious. That is.

Courtesy Deepa, of Paticheri

And she graciously has given me permission to use some of her photos – Thank you Deepa.

Separating the red from the green; Courtesy Deepa, of Paticheri

Let’s hit it.

Nigerian Zobo Jelly


3 cups Zobo liquid, from boiling calyxes with dried ginger, cloves and citrus
3 cups homemade apple pectin stock
2 cups granulated, white sugar
1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns, roughly crushed
3 – 4 dried red chilies, broken into small bits


Ensure your Zobo liquid does not contain any pineapple peel or the jelly will not set. I learnt the hard way!

How To

Preparation for Zobo (Hibiscus) jam

In a large pot or pan, combine all the ingredients. Set on medium heat and  allow to cook for 30 – 40 minutes, till the liquid is reduced, and syrupy.

Zobo (Hibiscus) jam, that wasn't

While the liquid is reducing, prepare your jars by washing in hot water and ‘sterilising’, either by gently heating in a warm oven, or by gently boiling in a pot of water – ensuring the jars are fully submerged, for about 10 minutes.

Prepare your wrinkle-test plates: put small plates/saucers in the deep freezer – this will allow you test the ‘set’ of the jelly once it’s cooked.

Once the jelly is ‘ready’, turn off the heat and begin your test by spooning a couple of tablespoons or so of liquid onto a ‘cold’ saucer. Leave it to rest for a minute or or so. It’ll cool down a bit. Then gently poke it.

Does it wrinkle? Yes. Your jelly is ready.

Does it wrinkle? No. Your jelly is not ready. Cook for an additional 5 – 7 minutes, repeating wrinkle test till it is ready.

Zobo (Hibiscus) jam, that wasn't

Once ready, allow to cool slightly, about 5 – 10 minutes then pour into (warm) jars, seal and allow to cool completely.

You could also spoon it into fancy containers….if what you want to achieve is beauty for Le Tableau. Like I did some 🙂

Zobo (Roselle/Hibiscus) Jelly
Zobo Jelly, for Le Tableau

Serve with meats and ssauces. On Thanksgiving Day. For Christmas Lundin. The choice again?

Nigerian Roasted Suya-spiced Butternut SquashYours!

What would you have the Zobo Jelly with? And what would you create with a Zobo infusion?


    • It is quite nice even if it took me some getting used to.

      I absolutely love how it shines through in this jelly….

      If you have Mexican or Caribbean stores near you, look out for Flor de Jamaica or Red Sorrel – same thing.

  1. I’m so delightfully honored to be a part of the continuing roselle/zobo story! And can’t wait to try out your spiced version myself; it has me drooling shamelessly even now. Just a few days ago, I’d found a super-cute puckered up bud on one of our plants–which I regret now not sharing with you. It’s amazing how many new things there are always there to discover in the same-old, same-old. Even plants have expressions, moods, and fancies, it would seem. Here’s the image from Paticheri’s facebook stream (I take the liberty). Sending all love and zobo kisses from Pondicherry for a sweet spicy 2014!

    • Ohh that blossom is beautiful. Really puckered. And a kiss 🙂

      And on new discoveries in the old – amazing. That’s an endless sources of experiments for one, aye?

      Best wishes for 2014 dear – in which we shall speak and Skype 🙂

      Stay well and hugs to you.

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