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Orange trees range in height from 8-15 meters depending on the variety. Their small fragrant blossoms are white with five petals curled around a central cluster of yellow stamens. Buds often develop in late winter, but fully emerge in early spring. Their scent is sweet and heady reminiscent of jasmine, tuberose, nutmeg and fresh grass. While highly aromatic, Orange blossoms taste unpleasantly bitter and may have a soapy flavor.
Orange blossoms are available in late winter and early spring.
Orange blossoms are harvested from two main varieties of the Rutaceae family: Citrus sinensis and Citrus aurantium, sweet and bitter orange, respectively. Although edible, Orange blossoms are rarely eaten on their own but rather distilled into essential oil and aromatized water. Blossoms from the bitter Orange tree are far more aromatic than those of the sweet orange species, and are used to make an expensive oil known as neroli. Its production requires 2,200 lbs of flowers to yield just 36 oz of the oil. Orange flower water is a byproduct of this process and is less potent but more affordable. Essential oil of the sweet orange is extracted from the fruit’s skin, rather than its flowers, and is often used in cleaning products and furniture polish.
Bitter Orange blossom oil, known as neroli, is used to treat skin conditions such as, acne, dermatitis, wrinkles, scars and stretch marks. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system and may be used to alleviate stress, depression and physical tension.
While Orange blossoms are aesthetically pleasing and beautifully scented, they do not offer much in the way of flavor, and are best used as an oil or infused water. Orange flower water adds a sweet perfumed note to dairy rich desserts and elevates the fruitiness of chocolate and the floral quality of dried fruits. Pair orange flower water with mascarpone, buttermilk, cream, caramel, vanilla, pistachios, almonds, dates, dried fig, anise, cinnamon, cardamom and honey. Orange flower water is a classic ingredient in the Ramos Gin Fizz and also pairs well with champagne. It can easily overwhelm a cocktail or dessert and should be used sparingly.
Neroli oil is named for the Princess of Nerola, Italy, Anne Marie Orsini. She was the first to use the essence as a perfume rather than a medicine. The bitter orange oil has been called neroli ever since.
The Orange tree is native to southern China and northeastern India. It was most likely introduced to the Mediterranean by way of Portuguese and Italian traders where it was then cultivated by the Spanish. In the mid 1500’s the orange tree came to the Americas where it now leads the word in production. Orange trees are subtropical, favoring annual rainfall of 13-50 cm. They can be found on six continents and are the world’s most commonly grown fruit tree.
Recipes that include Orange Blossoms. One is easiest, three is harder.
Someone spotted Orange Blossoms using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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the american academy in rome
Near Rome, Italy
About 433 days ago, 4/16/16
Spotter's comments : granite with mint