Orange blossom water is actually the distilled blossom of sour oranges. Which always strikes us as being really odd. You know, the fact that something with such a sweet smell can come from something which offers its culinary antithesis. Wonderful thing, nature, eh?
Please note: orange blossom needs to be used VERY VERY SPARINGLY. Got that? It can kill a recipe at twenty paces. A little goes a very long way indeed. This is not to say it is a bad thing – it is wonderful, but potent.
Our guess is that you originally bought your bottle of orange blossom water to make a cake or some syrup, as this is the most common usage of the stuff. It creeps into a myriad Middle Eastern confections: paklava, ma’amoul, faloodeh (sorbet)… Anyway, don’t lob it in the bin with the rest of Aunt Mildred’s dodgy chutney and that mouldy chilli paste you bought back from Marrakech. Orange blossom water is useful for all sorts of other things. Here’s our top 10:
- Put a few drops in your iron and you’ll come out smelling of blossom time and again;
- Use it as a facial toner: it is mildly astringent and perfect for sensitive skin;
- Add a few drops to ice cubes to pep up anything from a glass of tap water to a Pimms;
- Add a splash to your cocktails: it works really well with gin. Try the Persepolis Bahar Special: gin, grenadine, orange flower water, a dash of tamarind, splodge of lemon, top up with pomegranate juice… Don’t forget the paper umbrella.
- Add a dash to smoothies: great with any fruit/yoghurt combo;
- Whisk just a hint of the stuff into salad dressings – it will keep your guests guessing;
- Sprinkle over fruit salad (along with some cinnamon) to add a new slant to an old classic;
- Add just 1/3 teaspoon to a mug of hot chocolate to increase its happy quotient;
- Pop a few drops in a bowl of water and leave it near a radiator (unless you are posh enough already to have a humidifier) to scent the air;
- Mix with brown sauce, balsamic vinegar, onion, ginger and sesame oil for an ace marinade for practically anything.
And there you have it. Rather than being stuck with the stuff you’ll be rushing out to buy another bottle before you know it.