Orange Flower Water

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

orange flower water sometimes called orange blossom water, is produced by the distillation of orange flowers of the bitter orange, i.e. the bigarade or Seville oranges. This produces an essential oil called Neroli (used in perfumery). The oil, rising to the surface, is drawn off, while the aqueous portion is used as orange flower water.

Orange flower water originated in the Middle East where it is still used to lend a delicate perfume to syrups, pastries, and puddings. It is often added with rosewater, or on its own, to atr, the sugar syrup of the Middle East, and used to soak or sprinkle over pastries and sweets. In Morocco, where it is known as zhaar, it flavours salads and certain tagines. The ‘white coffee’ of the Lebanon is made by adding a teaspoon of orange flower water to a coffee cup of boiling water with or without the addition of sugar. It is often added to flavour Turkish coffee. A drop or two added to water with sugar is a popular soothing drink at bedtime for children.