Sean (a fellow PCV) is one cool guy and smart dude. He came to me with the idea of creating Hibiscus Syrup. Yum!
His thought was that since Tonga is full of so many beautiful flowers (including hibiscus), that it wouldn't be too difficult to create Hibiscus infused syrup.
The only thing that we needed was a food dehydrator.
Since those are not common appliances in the Kingdom, I googled how to make a homemade one.
I found a nifty website and Sean and I adventured around town yesterday to find all the necessary materials (electrical wire, a socket, a lightbulb holder thingy, a 60-watt lightbulb, aluminum foil, cardboard box, and packaging tape).
Here is Sean lining the cardboard box with foil. Doesn't he looked pumped?
Next we cut a hole the size of the lightbulb holder. I also had some chopsticks lying around so we stuck those in to hold up a shelf (that would eventually house whatever needed drying). Then we stuck the lightbulb holder in and connected the bulb. (After that we connected the wires to the back, but I wasn't paying attention when Sean did that so I didn't take any pictures. I was too busy looking at the all the pretty flowers.).
Then we found another piece of cardboard that fit inside and covered that with foil. Then we placed it over the top of the chopsticks and put the flowers on.
Then we closed the box up, making sure that there was a small opening in the top to let all the moisture out. We tied it up... with some ribbon I had lying around. Sort of looks like a homemade Sally Bake Oven... if you were an 80's/90's kid you should understand this reference. Side note: Those mini ovens were awesome. I never had one, but my sister got gifted one one Christmas and I may have eaten the majority of the culinary masterpieces that exited out of the pink door.
After about 30-45 minutes we had dried flowers. The bottom shelf's flowers were a little too crispy.
Next we turned on a burner and dissolved 1.5 cups of sugar into 1.5 cups of water. We kept stirring until it boiled. Then we took it down to a simmer. Added the hibiscus. Doesn't that look interesting...
After awhile we shut off the heat and let the liquid turn into syrup. I have to be honest, I'm not sure what happened because something went terribly wrong and instead of syrup we ended up with a rock hard piece of sugar. It may because I didn't use refined sugar and instead used real can sugar. Whoopsies.
It sure was fun to make. At least I know that the dehydrator works - I wonder what I will dry next = mangoes? bananas? pineapple? The sky's the limit!
Sean is showing off our new creation. This picture was taken about 30 seconds after he flipped the jar over - meaning the syrup hadn't moved and instead had turned rock hard. Who wants some rock hard hibiscus syrup? Why isn't your hand up?
We tried some on some pancakes... Sean kept saying how it was like "honey" and we just needed to keep stirring it. Meh. Nope.