The Pretend Chef

Zobo Syrup, zobo drink

Chilled zobo syrup, zobo drink. Ruby red nectarous drink.

Drinks, Recipes | March 28, 2016 | By

Chilled Zobo syrup, zobo drink is commonly made in homes and sold on the streets in Nigeria. Zobo is the calyx of the roselle plant (a specie of hibiscus). It cuts across the tropical world, from the Caribbean where it is known as red sorrel to Nigeria where it is called zoborodo or zobo, Ethiopia, bissap and Malaysia, asam belanda. The syrup made from Zobo has a rich deep ruby colour and tastes like nectar, it is versatile in its usage especially for zobo drink.

Dry zobo for zobo syrup, zobo drink

We enjoy zobo drink so much in my home and I used to make it by the gallons, but the frequent trips to the fridge or freezer to get zobo drink by the children was causing a lot of mess, spillings both inside and outside the fridge. So I decided that turning it into a syrup should take care of the problem and it did. All you have to do is,  just take out the jar of zobo syrup (I store it old sterilized jam or mayo bottles), scoop a spoonful into your cup and dilute with water, problem solved.

Chilled zobo syrup, zobo drink. Ruby red nectarous drink.

A gallon of zobo drink was thus reduced to one small jar. Now I just make several jars and store in the fridge.

I use zobo syrup for so many other things, one of which is replacing expensive Grenadine syrup in my Chapman. It can be brushed on cakes, poured over pancakes, crepes and waffles, as ice-cream syrup, in iced tea or coffee. It is an excellent alternative to grenadine syrup and a wonderful drink mixer for mocktails and cocktails. Add soda water to Zobo syrup for a refreshing fizzy drink.

To make Zobo Syrup, zobo drink:

1 cup zobo
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

other spices and herbs:

root ginger, cloves, pineapple, 
lemon grass, teabag, cinnamon, cardamom, 
star anise,pimento berries, lemon and lime rinds or 
whole, alligator pepper etc. (use only one or two).

Rinse the zobo thoroughly in a bowl of water, to remove any grit. The water will turn red, don’t worry there is still a lot of colour and flavour where that came from.

Place it in a small pot, add the water and spice, herb or fruit, bring to a boil.

Boil for 10 minutes and take off the heat.

Leave to steep and cool for about 30 minutes. By which time the spices would have infused their flavour and essence into the liquid.

Strain with a cheese cloth, a very fine sieve or a piece of chiffon fabric.

sieved zobo for zobo syrup, zobo drink

Put the liquid back in a clean pot. Add sugar and lemon juice and boil till all sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat.

Strained zobo drink for zobo syrup, zobo drink

The longer it is boiled, the thicker it will become and it will thicken further when it cools down.

thick zobo syrup, zobo syrup, zobo drink


  • If it is for drinking, I don’t make it too thick because it will be difficult to dissolve, but for pancakes, waffles etc, you need a thicker consistency, as thick as store bought syrup.
  • Be careful not to overcook it because the burnt sugar will give your syrup a bitter taste.
  • Some spices are stronger in flavour than others so use accordingly. It is better to use too little than too much. You can put the spice back into the jar of already made hot syrup to keep infusing.
  • When making this syrup, don’t put the spice or herb into the pot at the stage of actually turning the zobo water into a syrup, that is when sugar has been added. This might cause the sugar to crystallize, causing the syrup to be grainy.

Pour into a clean glass jar or any airtight container and store in the refrigerator or in the freezer it will keep for months.

zobo syrup in a jar, zobo syrup, zobo drink

Rum or vodka can be added as a preservative to extend its shelf life, but not for the children.

To drink, simply dilute with water or soda water for a fizzy drink.

chilled and refreshing zobo syrup, zobo drink in a glass

Enjoy your zobo drink with a snack, a meal or just as a refreshing drink. Enjoy other drinks like cucumber drink, afterglow mocktail, orange carrot drink, healthy beetroot drink etc.

Please let me know how much you enjoyed your zobo drink or if you have any special ingredient you add to your zobo drink.

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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