June 27th is National Orange Blossom Day. The small, white, delicate blossoms, once a favorite flower in bridal bouquets, are used to make orange blossom water (also called orange flower water), a clear, aromatic by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.
While the distillate, orange blossom oil*, is used in perfumery, the orange blossom water, delicately scented like the flowers and not the fruit, is used as a calming personal and household fragrance. It is added to skin toners, bath water, and is spritzed from an aromatizer onto fabric and into the air (our grandmother sprayed it on sheets when ironing).
And it’s used in foods and beverages, today’s focus. You can add orange blossom water to:
In addition to the recipe that follows, there are more ways to use orange blossom water below.
Café blanc, “white coffee” is a refreshing infusion made from boiling water, orange flower water, and optional honey sweetener (photo #3).
Thanks to Victoria of BoisDeJasmin.com for her recipes with orange blossom water. There are links to others below, but we’ll start with this easy beverage recipe.
“Café blanc is a bit of a misnomer because this Lebanese drink contains no coffee at all,” says Victoria.
“It’s just hot water flavored with orange blossom, and it’s like sipping air perfumed with flowers. Mixed with water, orange blossom tastes not just floral, but also green, citrusy, spicy and warm. The first sip reveals a zesty freshness, but what lingers is the taste of honeyed petals.”
Ingredients Per Drink
1. ADD the orange blossom water to the boiling water, stir and taste. If you’d prefer the drink sweet, stir in the honey.
*Used to make perfume, the oil is called neroli oil. In 1680, Anne Marie Orsini, the Italian duchess of Bracciano and princess of Nerola, introduced to orange blossom perfume. She so loved the spicy aroma with sweet and flowery notes that she used the fragrance to perfume everything—her bath, her clothes, her household furnishings. The fragrance became named for her (but we found no explanation of why it’s called neroli, not nerola). The fragrance was also a favorite in the court of Elizabeth I of England.
MORE WAYS TO USE ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER
Fruit Desserts. Orange blossom pairs especially well with strawberries and apricots—cakes and tarts, compotes and jams, drinks. Sprinkle apricots with sugar and lemon juice and bake them in a 400°F/200°C oven until the sugar caramelizes and the apricots soften. Drizzle with orange blossom water and serve hot or cold. Make a refreshing drink of apricot juice mixed with orange blossom water and sparkling water.
Ice Cream. Soften a container of vanilla ice cream slightly and add 4 teaspoons of orange blossom water per pint (or to taste). Mix well, chill and serve. If you make your own ice cream, add orange blossom water to the custard before freezing it.
Puddings and Ice Cream. Anything creamy—custard, mousse, panna cotta, rice pudding–can be enhanced with orange blossom water gratefully. Victoria uses it to give an adult twist to rice pudding: Rice Pudding with Vanilla and Orange Blossom.
White Chocolate. Mix orange blossom water into white chocolate-based sauces and desserts, or into cream to make a delicious tart filling. Whip heavy cream with sugar, add a few drops of orange blossom water, fill the tart shells. and top with fresh berries.
Read the full article and the discussion threads for much more that you can do with orange blossom water.