Make Your Own Orange Flower Water

An orange and orange blossoms on a tree

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Orange flower water (also commonly called orange blossom water) is scented water frequently found in Moroccan homes. You'll often find it applied as a perfume and freshener or used in culinary preparations as an ingredient. For the latter, it shows up in lengthy list desserts and sweets such as Moroccan rice pudding and Moroccan sweet rolls with anise and sesame, but you'll also find it adding fragrant flavor to savory dishes such as chicken Bastilla and tomato jam.

The Traditional Way to Make It

The traditional method of making pure orange flower water requires steam distillation in special copper equipment known as a still or katara in Moroccan Arabic. Since a still is not a common kitchen gadget, you can try this easy home method instead. It calls for infusing freshly picked blossoms in distilled water, using everyday kitchen equipment. While not as intensely flavored as it's a steam distilled counterpart, it will still yield orange blossom water fragrant enough to try in Moroccan recipes. Seville orange blossoms from the Mediterranean are traditionally preferred, but you can try other varieties. Another option is to try using rose petals to make your own Rose Petal Water.

If you don't get results that you like or don't have time to make your own, you can buy orange flower water online or look for it in pharmacies and halal or Middle Eastern markets. Be sure that it's 100 percent pure and not artificially flavored.

What You Need

Gather these ingredients to make your own orange blossom water

  • Orange flower petals, preferably from Seville orange trees
  • Distilled water
  • Bowl, strainer, and fresh water for washing the petals
  • Stone or porcelain mortar and pestle
  • Large glass jar with lid
  • Small sterilized glass jars or bottles for storing the orange flower water

How to Make Orange Blossom Water

Orange blossom water is not very difficult to make. The whole process takes about an hour, but then it requires several weeks of steeping time. Plan accordingly if you will need it for a recipe or an event.

  1. Use flowers that have not been sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides.
  2. Flowers should not be hybrid varieties as the smell and essence may have been bred out of them in favor of "showiness."
  3. Pick blossoms early in the morning before the sun gets too hot, about 2 to 3 hours after sunrise.
  4. Wash the blossoms and petals in cool water and rinse thoroughly to remove insects and dirt.
  5. Macerate petals using a stone or porcelain mortar and pestle and let sit for several hours.
  6. Place petals in a large glass jar with a lid and cover the petals with distilled water. Less is more. You can always add more water later.
  7. Let stand in the full sun for a couple of weeks. Check the scent. If it is too weak, leave it in the sun for another week.
  8. Strain the blossom water into several smaller sterilized jars with lids.

Once the water has been made, store the bottles in a cool dark location such as the refrigerator.