Orange Blossom Sugar

by Matt on March 23, 2007

Orangeblossomsugarmattbi

Sometimes it’s the tiny little things in life that bring the most joy.

I always get so excited when my trees start waking up from months of
dormancy. Even though our orange tree (known forever as "Granny’s
orange tree") never really loses its deep green leaves, it has its own
way of letting you know that it’s kicking into high gear.  Every year
around this time buds begin to appear, and within a day or two these
creamy, supple pods begin to open up into beautiful little flowers. And
even if you were inclined to bury your head in the sand and ignore the
seasonal shift, orange trees let you know their intentions by perfuming
the entire yard with a heady, intoxicating fragrance of orange
blossoms. It’s literally the most soothing and luxurious smell I can
think of and far from the tart, acidy flavor of the fruit (if I’m
comparing smells and tastes, mind you). It’s much closer to honeysuckle
than orange. And if the scent drives me crazy in the best of ways, I
can only wonder what it does to bees!

I’ve thought about pitching a tent underneath the tree for a few nights
so that I won’t miss out on the blossom’s short lifespan. Once my
little buds open into flowers they only have a few days; they fall to
the ground and fruit begins to grow. While I love my citrus fruit, it’s
the special little blossoms that make me so happy and fill my heart and
my senses with pure, unbridled pleasure. In this crazy haphazard world
we live in I think it’s important to step back and breathe in the
things that mother nature gives us, no questions asked.

While citrus is known for its staying and preservation power, the
delicate orange blossoms don’t last long. About the only way to
continually experience the scent of orange blossoms is to trek to my
nearest Whole Foods and buy a bottle of essential oil, but that’s not
quite the same thing, is it? After some quick poking around I
discovered I could use the blossoms to infuse their essence into sugar
and water and continue to enjoy their unique flavor. And it couldn’t be
easier.

Orange_flower_bar


Orange Blossom Sugar

If you have an orange tree or can get blossoms now is the time to do
this. Make sure the blossoms are untreated and come from an unsprayed
tree–you don’t want chemicals here. Rinse 2 to 4 small flowers and
allow to dry completely. Gently bruise a few petals and place them in a
glass jar that has been filled halfway with 1 cup of sugar. Cover the
petals with the remaining sugar and store in a dark cool place for 3 to 5 days.  Check periodically, you can let it go a bit longer but be
forewarned that a little goes a long way! Discard the blossoms once
done and keep your sugar tightly sealed.

A teaspoon in iced tea gives it a new dimension. it’s great sprinkled
over fruit and gives it just a hint of orange blossom, and this weekend
we’re going to experiment with a creme brulee using our infused sugar.
I’ll let you know how it goes.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana March 23, 2007 at 1:46 pm

You’re right, Matt, about the scent of orange blossoms. I can’t think of a smell I like better in California… If the Pacific had much of a smell to it, it might be the quintessential California scent but since it doesn’t, orange blossoms take the prize for that all too brief time they bloom in spring. It’s simply intoxicating.

Sean March 23, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Well, you know how I feel about oranges but all citrus blossoms are another matter altogether. I love the heady aroma, and this sounds like a fabulous way to capture the ephemeral pleasures of the orange tree’s fleeting blooms. Pity we don’t have many of them up hereabouts.

Monkey Wrangler March 23, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Yes! Orange blossoms are the best. Thanks for the simple recipe to capture this divine gift. My in-laws have quite a few citrus trees, many of them orange, and this time of year it is heaven just to breathe at their house. I totally know what you mean by camping out under them.

Anita March 23, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Oh, I have to try this with bergamot blossoms. I hope we still have some!

Ellie March 23, 2007 at 6:59 pm

What a marvellous idea! I’m yet to step into the world of infused sugars but I can imagine this sugar would do delicious things!

Diane March 23, 2007 at 7:14 pm

I buy bottled Orange Flower Water from middle-eastern stores, but I also infuse my Meyer lemon blossoms into water to use in cooking. It’s not quite as luscious as the orange blossoms, but it does make a nice infusion.

Veronica March 23, 2007 at 10:42 pm

MMMM! that sounds wonderful.I wish I could try that out. Ive been a lurker for awhile now and decided it was time to comment. :D

melissa mcgee March 24, 2007 at 12:02 am

wowee wow wow. i’m so excited for you i’m not sure what else to say… i don’t think i’ve ever smelled the scent of orange blossoms on the tree.

I WANT SOME OF THAT SUGAR!

david March 24, 2007 at 12:58 am

Bet a bit of that sugar would be nice rimmed around a Cosmopolitans. I know you rarely touch alcohol, but it sounds like a nice idea.

cindy March 24, 2007 at 6:36 pm

sounds really wonderful…i really miss the california citrus trees, living here in the pacific n.w. they don’t do so well here in the wet, rainy climate.

s'kat March 24, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I miss Real Live Orange Trees. I used to live in Florida, and sure, the orange groves may have been notorious for murders and drug trafficking. But they were so lovely- I never really cared for oranges until I moved there, and tasted one fresh off the tree.

It is still difficult for me to enjoy oranges/o.j., just because it doesn’t compare to the freshy-fresh I had down there.

Orange sugar? I think I’ve found a new pet name.

s'kat March 24, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I miss Real Live Orange Trees. I used to live in Florida, and sure, the orange groves may have been notorious for murders and drug trafficking. But they were so lovely- I never really cared for oranges until I moved there, and tasted one fresh off the tree.

It is still difficult for me to enjoy oranges/o.j., just because it doesn’t compare to the freshy-fresh I had down there.

Orange sugar? I think I’ve found a new pet name.

180/360 March 24, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Orange blossom sugar is a great idea! I was just admiring my citrus blossoms today. I agree- the scent is heavenly. PS. I also love your picture.

Cenk March 25, 2007 at 1:33 pm

Great idea Matt! I always sweeten my iced tea with sugar pulsed together with orange zest, but that doesn’t keep well. This is much more practical.

Audrey March 25, 2007 at 9:42 pm

I want to be in your garden to smell Granny’s Orange Blossom. Looking forward to hearing about the crème brulee. I love this photo. It even goes well with the colour scheme of your blog

Linda, The Village V March 26, 2007 at 10:26 am

i only WISH i had an orange blossom tree in my back yard so I could make this immediately! what a beautiful photograph, as always.

Also, just a heads up — i nominated you and your blog for the “thinking blog award” — please check out my tid bit on you and your amazing work… http://thevillagevegetable.blogspot.com/2007/03/and-nominees-are.html

kevin March 26, 2007 at 10:29 am

Holy frijoles, eye carumba that conjures up such great olfactory memories!!! Why don’t you package that and sell it (to me)?

susan March 26, 2007 at 2:17 pm

ooh i wish i had a orange tree!! what a great idea. can i come over for tea? :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) March 26, 2007 at 5:19 pm

I don’t have access to orange blossoms, sadly, but I’m going home this weekend, and I might try this technique with the abundance of honeysuckle in my mom’s yard.

cybele March 29, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Ooh, I’ve got way too many blossoms on my lime tree. What a great idea.

Heidi April 1, 2007 at 10:21 pm

Prettiest. Photo. Ever.
Wow, love that subtle orange gradation. -h

Sharon Rogers January 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm

Can you tell me exactly when the orange blossoms smell so wonderful in the Phx area? My sister wants to come visit and really wants to time it for blossom time. Thanks.

lauren March 24, 2008 at 11:21 am

I just made orange blossom sugar and it’s to die for. I’m selling some of it on my etsy site if anyone is interested.
mariakutskova.etsy.com

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