UTAH COUNTY, Utah- (Good Things Utah) GTU Intern and vegan foodie Krystal Gates shared a little bit of comida y chisme in the kitchen with us. Gates, who has been vegan since 2016, is always coming up with new ideas on how to make vegan foods delicious, easy and affordable. Gates was able to make a beverage and meal out of hibiscus. Agua de Jamaica and Jamaica tacos pair exceptionally well together. Gates, who is the proud daughter, granddaughter and niece of Salvadoran and Mexican immigrants, is always wanting to adapt Central American recipes to be plant based.  In addition to this recipe being simple, it is also a low waste recipe and can easily be made zero waste. Save those hibiscus flowers and upcycle them for a delicious drink and tasty taco.

Agua de Jamaica Recipe:

  • 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
  • 2 quarts water
  • ½ cup sugar (or sweetener) per pitcher of jamaica
  • Put 2 quarts of water in a pot
    Add 2 cups of dried hibiscus flowers to the water
    Bring to a boil
    As soon as the water boils reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
    After 10 minutes turn off the heat and allow the hibiscus concentrate to cool. (It will be VERY strong.)
  • Put ⅓ of the concentrate in a half-gallon pitcher and add the sugar
    Fill the pitcher with cool water and stir vigorously to dissolve the water
    Serve chilled and over ice (You can sweeten to taste)

Tacos De Jamaica recipe:

  • 8 ounces dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 slices fresh pineapple, chopped (garnish)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (garnish) 
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped (garnish)
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges 
  • Two tortillas (store bought or handmade)

Rinse hibiscus very well to make sure all dust is removed. Place clean hibiscus in a pot over medium heat, cover with water, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove hibiscus from heat and allow to steep for at least 2 hours, until hibiscus is very soft. Drain well.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook 1 onion and 2 cloves garlic until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in drained hibiscus and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until hibiscus turns a deep red color.

Warm corn tortillas in a skillet. Divide hibiscus mixture amongst tortillas and top with pineapple, onion, and cilantro. Serve with lime and any other garnish.