Hibiscus Extracts Meet GRAS Regulations

If you’ve been interested in using hibiscus extracts but have safety concerns, you can relax. You can now use hibiscus extracts confidently in your flavor and fragrance creations thanks to their official spot on the GRAS list.


If a substance is on the FDA’s GRAS list, then it is “Generally Recognized As Safe.” The FDA identifies the substances on this list as recognized as safe through a consensus of scientific opinion. Some of the items on the list carry restrictions, such as “flavorings for use in alcoholic beverages.” Hibiscus extracts carry no such restrictions, meaning that these flavors can make their way into all food and beverage applications safely and legally.


Here are some of the possible applications for this newcomer on the flavor scene.


Alcoholic beverages


Flavor innovation in the alcoholic beverage industry keeps consumers engaged, and lately, bold flavors in beers and ciders are topping the list of trends. Flavored beer and cider options have mass appeal while offering low-alcohol products that help drinkers to moderate their intake.


Hibiscus extract is right at home blended with lemongrass in a handcrafted ale, or try contrasting hibiscus with slightly sour and salty flavors in a sweet-and-tangy brew for something truly unique. Hibiscus is also a delicious and unexpected guest star in a range of mixed drinks, such as margaritas or a hibiscus, pineapple, lime, and jalapeno cocktail. The only limit is your imagination!


Non-alcoholic beverages


If your brand manufactures non-alcoholic beverages, you can still make use of hibiscus extract in your concoctions. Hibiscus tea is a popular drink with sweet and tart flavors reminiscent of cranberry juice. This tea is delicious iced or hot and may even encourage health benefits for those who consume it.


Hibiscus is also welcome in a variety of other non-alcoholic beverages, including red sorrel, Sudan tea, sour tea, and agua de Jamaica. Even soda is getting the hibiscus treatment; this botanical ingredient is turning up in fizzy drinks alongside flavors such as citrus, strawberry, or cream soda. Hibiscus is naturally calorie-free and caffeine-free and has a lovely, tart flavor that can be enjoyed for what it is or combined with other ingredients and natural flavorings to create fresh taste profiles for your non-alcoholic products.


Hibiscus in food


Drinks aren’t the only applications for this tasty flower—its flavor also works great in many food items. Hibiscus features a robust floral aroma with a bit of a woody and astringent character, a delicate and subtle fruity undertone, and a hint of green (think fresh-cut mint leaves).


Like mint, hibiscus works well in a wide range of sauces, side dishes, and even desserts. Glazes for pork or lamb get a tangy sweetness from hibiscus; it also pairs well with white fish as a dry rub, fresh garnish, or sweet sauce. Hibiscus is a key trend for bakers to familiarize themselves with as well, as this unique ingredient adds color and aromatic citrus notes to a wide range of baked goods.


We expect to see much more of this versatile and intriguing ingredient this year, especially with its new GRAS status.