In CREATE!’s cooperative gardens, women grow a variety of fruits and vegetables to meet their household needs and to sell at local markets. In addition to common vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, cooperative members also grow bissap (hibiscus). Bissap is a versatile crop that has many uses. Senegalese women add bissap leaves to popular dishes such as ceebu jën and also brew the flowers into a sugary juice or tea. Hibiscus contains antioxidants and has been found to reduce blood pressure.
In Ouarkhokh, cooperative members grew almost 500 square meters of bissap this year. The women will sell both fresh and dried bissap at the local market. CREATE!’s cooperative members have a local monopoly on bissap and are able to supply nearby communities throughout the year!
You can make bissap tea at home. It’s delicious!
Jus de Bissap:
- Two or three cups of dried hibiscus flowers
- One or two cups of sugar
- Optional flavorings: sprig of mint, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root, 1 teaspoon orange-flower water, ½ cup lemon juice, 1 cup pineapple or orange juice
- Briefly rinse the dried flowers in cool water
- In a saucepan, heat two quarts of cold water. As soon as the water begins to boil, add the dried hibiscus leaves. Immediately remove from heat and let the flowers steep for ten minutes. Pour the water from the pot into a pitcher using a strainer to separate the flowers from the water. Be sure not to pour any of the flower sediment into the pitcher. Stir in the sugar. Add any other flavorings, if desired.
- Add ice and chill completely. May be served over ice.
The juice can be prepared double strength, by using only half as much water. The resulting Jus de Bissap can be mixed with seltzer water, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda. Jus de Bissap can also be mixed in cocktails.