Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Red and black Christmas - Enjoying the traditional sorrel and fruit cake

Published:Monday | December 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sorrel Mojito
Sorrel drink
Christmas cake
Christmas cake
Christmas cake

What would a Jamaican meal be like on Christmas Day without the traditional sorrel drink and fruit cake? There is no doubt that the highlight of a typical Jamaican Christmas meal is red and black - sorrel and fruit cake, perfectly complementing the season's traditional red and green colours.

But do they really add any value to our push for a healthy lifestyle?

Let's learn a bit more about our two favourite Christmas delights.




Sorrel is from the hibiscus plant family and is high in flavonoids, healthy substance found in red fruits and vegetable that helps to lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Sorrel is a good source of vitamins C, B1, and B2.

According to Professor Paul Gyles, researcher at Northern Caribbean University, using the whole sorrel (calyx and seeds) reduces the risk of developing lung and laryngeal cancers.




Get the most health benefits from sorrel by:

- Blending the calyx (flower) and seeds of the sorrel; the drink will be thicker with more flavour and richness.

- Using less sugar to sweeten drink. Research has shown that excess sugar is stored in the body as fat.

- Adding less rum or wine to drink. Appreciate the real taste of true Jamaican sorrel.

- Using pureed or chopped sorrel to make stuffing for poultry. Mix with breadcrumbs, raisins and other ingredients ... yummy, appealing and healthy.

- Making a sorrel sauce or chutney for fish, poultry, beef and even the spicy curried goat or the vegetarian dish.

- Preparing a special smoothie with sorrel added. The calyx of the sorrel may be used instead of the green vegetable or the sorrel drink instead of other juices in smoothie. Be even more creative and make ice using sorrel drink or brew, then use sorrel-flavoured ice to make smoothie.




The traditional Jamaican fruit cake is made with a variety of dried fruits that have been soaked (rehydrated for many weeks in red wine and sometimes a little rum).

Have you ever thought about the nutrients found in our Jamaican fruit cake?

It is loaded with:

- Calories from margarine, sugar, dried fruits, rum and wine.

- Fibre from dried fruits. It reduces bad cholesterol, improves good cholesterol levels and prevents constipation.

- Resveratrol found in raisins, currants, prunes and red wine. It is an antioxidant that lowers the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers.

- Anthocyanins, an antioxidant in raisins, currants and prunes. Reduces risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease.

- Vitamins B1, B2, B6 from raisins, currants, prunes, cherries.

- Iron found in raisins, prunes, currants helps to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia.

- Potassium is found in raisins, prunes, currants and is helpful in maintaining the heart rate, lowering blood pressure.

- An excellent flavour from a combination of all the ingredients and love from the cake maker.

What an eye-opener? But what can we do to lower the calories in this cake?




- Use less butter or margarine when creaming with sugar. Blended or pureed raisins, prunes, currants and cherries are an excellent fat substitute.

- Use less sugar to cream with butter or margarine. Substitute blended or pureed fruits for sugar. Dried fruits are naturally high in sugar and the fibre in the fruits when rehydrated will also bind all ingredients and add a more fruity flavour.

- Use less rum in sorrel and cake, because during the festive season, alcoholic beverages are served all day in most households.

Jamaica is blessed with the creative ability to create sumptuous dishes that are usually over-consumed and cause weight gain. Let us make the red and black on our table or the kitchen counter healthier this season.