Orange flower water, or orange blossom water, is the clear, perfumed by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms for their essential oil.
This essential water has traditionally been used as an aromatizer in many Mediterranean traditional dessert dishes, such as in France for the gibassier and pompe à l'huile or in Spain for the Roscón de Reyes (King cake), or the Samsa in Tunisia or in Moroccan coffee, but has more recently found its way into other cuisines. For example, orange flower water is used in Europe to flavor madeleines, in Mexico to flavor little wedding cakes and Pan de muerto, and in the United States to make orange blossom scones and marshmallows. Orange flower water is also used as an ingredient in some cocktails, such as the Ramos Gin Fizz. In Malta and many North African as well as Middle Eastern countries, orange blossom water is widely used as medicine for stomach ache and given to small children as well as adults.
Orange flower water has been a traditional ingredient used often in North African as well as in Middle Eastern cooking. In Arab variants of baklava, orange blossom water is often mixed with the sweet syrup for flavor. Orange blossoms are believed to be used in this manner because they are seen as the traditional bridal flower and, therefore, symbolize purity (white, small and delicate). It is also added to plain water in the Middle East to mask high mineral content and other unpleasant flavors (e.g. those arising from storage in a qulla, a type of clay jug that keeps water cool in a manner similar to the zeer); some add the fragrance irrespective of the taste of the plain water.
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