Farming is not something new for Keralites, but Vypinkara native Ambros took a different step by cultivating shoe flower aka hibiscus at Mundaya in Shoranur of Palakkad. He leased a 10-acre land for 20 years to grow hibiscus.
In his opinion, the way we utilize local produce is more important. Many people simply waste organic produce available in our surroundings while it has huge demand in the market. Health is the greatest wealth. We can use the local crops for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Ambros said.
Remove the green stem and leaves beneath the flower. Finely chop the red petals and the pistils. Spray some lime extract on this and dry well to remove the fat. Lime extract is sprayed to preserve the red colour. Dry some holy basil leaves separately. After both are dried well, mix both and keep in a container. This can be used to make a beverage to replace normal tea.
Grind hibiscus flower in a mixer after adding sugar or palm candy. Add at least 600 grams of sugar for one litre water. Also add 100-millilitre lime extract for one litre water. Mix these well and fill in a wooden or ceramic container. Close it tightly to ensure fermentation. Take the juice after 20 days and filter it. The sarbat can be used after 20 days. No yeast should be added in this. Hibiscus sarbat has a shelf life of upto one year.
Put dried hibiscus petals in honey. Keep this for 60 days minimum. The red pigment will completely dissolve into the honey. This can be used after diluting or directly. Infused honey is ideal to boost immunity.
Jam is prepared by adding ash gourd pulp in hibiscus flower. Add 200 grams of pulp for 100 grams of flower and mix 100 grams of sugar in this. No preservative is required. Keep the jam in fridge. As no preservatives are added, the jam cannot be kept in room temperature for over three days.
The major feature of Farmer's Share run by Ambros is the zero-waste kitchen. There are numerous pickles that can be stored for many years. Many vessels containing fruits dried and dipped in honey and wine produced from nutmeg rind are kept here. In addition to the food items, he also shows that hibiscus can be used for dyeing clothes.