What Is Hibiscus And How Do You Use It?

While it may be a gorgeous plant with striking red or magenta blooms, hibiscus is so much more than a show-stopper to add to your garden. The flowering plant, according to Food Network, grows in many places around the world. But in addition to finding it blossoming outdoors, the flower can be found in the kitchen. Dried hibiscus flowers are used for many edible creations, notes Food Network. To get from garden to table, hibiscus blooms are plucked from the plant (via Healthline). The petals are dried and sold and are oftentimes common enough to find in your go-to grocery store.

As a dried flower, hibiscus can be steeped in hot water or liquid to infuse it with hibiscus flavor, says Healthline. You may have enjoyed a cup of ruby red hibiscus tea or shaken hibiscus syrups into your favorite cocktails. Healthline explains that hibiscus carries a tart, slightly floral, and almost fruit-like flavor that's reminiscent of cranberry.

How to use hibiscus and its benefits

The deep, rose-colored tea that hibiscus petals produce offers more than a refreshing drink to sip on. Hibiscus is also known for its health benefits, too, according to Food Network. The flower itself is high in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, but brewed, the level of antioxidants varies based on the strength of the tea or liquid. Healthline notes that working hibiscus into your diet can potentially aid in lowering blood pressure and blood fat levels.

If tea is not your drink of choice, there are many other ways to enjoy dried hibiscus. Epicurious reports that hibiscus can be steeped into a sauce or syrups of sorts when sugar is added, which can be squeezed into cocktails (try rum) or drizzled over desserts. According to Epicurious, the flowers contain tannins, like wine, which are great for breaking down and tenderizing meats, so try hibiscus in a marinade for proteins like beef or lamb. Instead of steeping, you can even grind hibiscus flowers into a fine powder, and add it to things like the fluffy meringue on top of your favorite pie, to impart the flavor of the signature bright blossom.