Orange Blossom Preserves
There comes a time during orange season when blossoms literally rain down on the ground. That is when to pluck the petals from these dropped blossoms, or you reach into the tree and gently pull off the petals and leave the stamen and tiny budding fruit on the branch. These ambrosial preserves are traditionally made with Seville oranges (the same fruit used to make marmalade), but blossoms from Navel or Valencia varieties do just as well. In Northern Morocco, this fragrant treat is savored by the teaspoonful on special occasions.
Total TimeHalf Day
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 1/2 cups water, divided use
- 2 cups blemish-free orange petals
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup orange blossom or orange flower water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
To rid the petals of bitterness, combine the salt and 2½ cups water in a large bowl. Add the petals and let stand about 45 minutes. Drain.
In a medium enamel or heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the remaining 3 cups water and 2 tablespoons sugar to a low boil. Add the petals and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes. Using a spoon or tweezers, pluck out any impurities such as small insects or bits of petals that float to the surface.
Strain the liquid into a measuring cup. You will need 1½ cups to complete the recipe. Carefully transfer the petals to a platter or bowl and set aside. Return the strained liquid to the pan.
Add the remaining 1¼ cups sugar, gently swish to blend, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid thickens to a light syrup consistency that coats the back of a wooden spoon, or until the temperature registers 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Gently stir in the petals, orange blossom water, and lemon juice.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the syrup reaches 230oF once again. Continue simmering, watching the mixture carefully, until it reaches the consistency you desire. The syrup should be a little thicker than molasses. (Remember, this isn’t a spread, but is served on its own as a treat!) The petals will turn slightly translucent and the syrup will turn pale gold in color.
Transfer to a sterilized jar and let cool. Seal and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 3 months in the sterilized jar. If the syrup turns too thick, place the jar in a warm-water bath to soften the contents before serving.
Orange blossom or orange flower water is available at specialty spice shops, Middle Eastern markets, or online. Be sure to store the bottle in sunlight so the water doesn’t turn dark.
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Copyright Kitty Morse, 2015