Making All Natural Ribena

If you know me, you know I’m big on making stuff myself. I’m also a big experimenter.
Last Saturday, I bought a 1 kg of roselle for RM4 from Lorong Kulit to make my own Ribena.
Roselle fruits from the hibiscus family
Roselle is a tropical fruit from the Hibiscus family; the fruit has 5 lobes or calyxes of the deepest velvety maroon.
A single roselle fruit
What’s great about this fruit is that you can make your own natural ribena drink! It’s full of vitamin C and according to the fruit seller, it helps reduces cholesterol and prevents hypertension.
If eaten as it is, it is tart! So tart your ears will start growing. I suggest you make it into a drink. Below is a photo of the roselle seeds after you’ve peeled the calyxes.
Roselle seeds once the calyxes are peeled off
How to make roselle syrup
To make your own roselle syrup, peel 1 kg of the fruit. Discard the seeds. What you want is the calyxes.
Into a pot, add these calyxes with 4 cups of caster sugar and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, uncovered . Then simmer gently for 45 minutes or until water has been reduced by half and there’s a sticky, jelly-like consistency. Let it cool and store in a glass jar in the fridge.
You can discard the boiled calyxes but if you want a good chew, don’t throw it away.
When you want a refreshing drink, take 1 tablespoon of this roselle syrup and mix with cold water. Stir well and enjoy!
But what if you don’t have 1 kg of roselle but have a handful? Then you can make a weak roselle tea. Peel enough calyx, add water and boil for 15 minutes. Sweeten with honey and serve. If you have 1 kg like me, it’s best to make the syrup and store for later consumption.
From fruit to vitamin-packed drink that's good for hypertension

38 thoughts on “Making All Natural Ribena”

  1. Sometimes I saw these Roselles at the market near my flat but they don’t look as good as the ones you got :S You like sugary stuff super lot don’t you?
    I have second thoughts on eating it. Once I bought a packet of dried Roselles from Bangsar Village. Chewed some and after half a day, I puked. Can still see those indigested Roselle bits. Gross but true.

  2. Not really…I’m not that much into sweet stuff. I just like creating my own stuff and making sure I am not drinking additives that’s found in OTHER sugary stuff. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Hear that Sarawak ladies? Anyone wants CooknEngr as a husband? He’s a really sweet guy plus he is American! He’s from Sarawak, naturally but has made his home in the US for so long now and loves to cook. What more does any woman want? Visit for recipes, vodka recipes and yes, for an insight into the man himself.

  4. Wow! that looks so beautiful! when I was living abroad in Yemen I used to have this all the time and it’s a really popular drink there but usually they make it from the dried fruit. I was searching high and low for some seeds so that I can grow it myself. Like you, I love making my own things and especially since i’ve become more knowledgeable of all the horrible additives and preservatives which the food industries pour into their foods!! would you perhaps have any idea where I can get some in malaysia?

  5. I bought heirloom Red Thai Roselle seed last winter and planted 6 seeds but only one took and is now growing into a beauty. I, too, like creating my own stuff because by doing so I know what’s in it and that the product is fresh and where it came from. With only one plant this year I’m sure we won’t have too many of the calyxes to work with, but if I can get even one seed head to save for next years planting, I hope to get atleast 10 plants. I make my own Jelly’s and syrups for giving away at christmas and birthdays and after all I’ve read about roselles, I’m looking forward to offering everyone something different.

    • I hope your plants work out well because roselles really taste very good as a syrup. I do have some roselle seeds which I mailed to a friend last year. I wonder how her roselle plants are doing? Anyway good luck with your roselles. Like you, I am hoping my rosemary will be OK too. That’s what we get when we try to plant herbs which aren’t native to our countries. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Same as Marsha, I’d seen these things in my local Penang market and didn’t know what to do with them. The Ribena-style juice really is excellent (and cheap). Great on ice-cream. A tip: to get rid of the seeds easily, cut off the very bottom of the “pod”, then cut it in half. The seeds are very easy to take out after this.

    • Yeah, we have lots of good stuff but we sometimes overlook them! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can only find them in Lorong Kulit market – don’t know why. Thanks for your tip! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now you’ve made me want to go buy some roselle and make some syrup!

  7. Hi Maya, it’s me again! Well, my ribena syrup turns up good, the taste is fine and it is not too sweet. I even mashed up the boiled calyxes and then add fresh juice of a lemon ,a cup of sugar and simmer for another 30 minutes and now I can have ribena jam too.Thanks again for your recipe!!

    • There’s no satisfaction like a homemade success! Am glad to hear your ribena syrup turned out well. Ya, good idea with the calyxes too! I am always rooting for homemade/homegrown stuff so we can reduce our carbon footprint as well as gain immense satisfaction from the food we eat. Doesn’t the ribena syrup taste extra yummy because you made it on your own? Reminds me to go to Lorong Kulit for my stash of fruit now… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Wow, this is looks nice. Have never seen fresh roselle here in KL. Just the juice and also dried ones.
    If you so happen to get your supply during the second week of November, can you please get for me as well? Will be in Penang 12 – 14 Nov.
    Would love to meet up with you, with or without the roselle.

    • Hi Poh Lin: You can easily get roselle at Lorong Kulit, near Stadium Bandaraya (off Dato Kramat area). This flea market is now also a fruit market with local and imported fruits going cheaply and sold daily from morning till late noon. I used to buy roselle there and just recently bought from my neighbourhood Lip Sin market. Hope I will be around too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hi there,
      If you can post over a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope to my business address: Suite 220, Eureka Complex, USM, 11800 Penang, I can post some roselle seeds to you.

  9. Hi Maya,
    very nice roselle you have. i just want to make a few corrections . those were not Roselle seeds but we call seed pods or capsules. there are lots of the seeds inside them. secondly, this is not ribena, and please dont call it ribena. it has it own taste and should be recognize as roselle. if you meet with those who do reasearch on this they will say the same thing. good luck ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hi Nana: thanks for your helpful corrections. ๐Ÿ™‚ OK, I stand corrected. I germinated some seeds – one plant is happily growing. It’s also a spectacular plant because even at less than 1 foot tall, it already had 1 roselle bud!

  10. Hi Maya,
    Do you still have the roselle seed available because I am interested to grow some roselle plant. If you have, I will send a self addressed stamped envelope to your business address for you to send the seed to me.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Siew Li: Sure. I’ll be glad to give you the roselle seeds. Our business address is Suite 220, Eureka Complex, USM, 11800 Penang.

  11. Hi Maya, Thank you so much. Btw, you look like an actress, I thought you are either an actress or a writer when I saw your profile on your blog.

  12. Hi Maya. Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge. I would like to know whether it is possible to bottle this syrup. Back in Mexico, my neighbout and uncles have roselle (Jamaica in Spanish), but they don’t know how to mazimise the profit with this product. They plant roselle and the middle men come to buy it for so cheap price. Like that people are not so motivated in planting roselle because of the little profit. I suggested some of my farmers neighbours to make it syrup and bottle it. I am looking for information about how to do this process now to share with them.
    If you can help in one or other way, I and them will appreciate it very much.
    Agustin Gtz Cjos

    • HI Agustin: Yes, it is possible to bottle this syrup. Here in Malaysia, we have companies who are bottling and selling this as a syrup for people who wish to drink roselle but cannot find the fresh fruit. I am hopeful you can find bottlers in Mexico who can help you. What do the middlemen do with the roselle they buy from your relatives?

  13. My mother used to plant Roselle on the backyard but i took for granted her effort.But now she still have few new plant and i am going to learn and make a tea out of it !!

Leave a Comment