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
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.