Orange flower
Orange flower

Medicinal Properties 

Aside from their distinctive pleasant aroma, the leaves and flowers have numerous properties:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Febrifuge
  • Cooling
    • make a basic infusion and add 250 ml (1 cup) grapefruit juice 
  • Sedative
    • add 1 tbsp. marjoram to the basic infusion and drink just before going to bed
  • Sudorific
  • Ophtalmologic - To calm irritated eyes
    • Make a basic infusion, adding 1 tbsp. marjoram; strain and use in warm compresses.

Basic infusion

You can use fresh flowers, or use orange flower water sold in pharmacies. If you use fresh flowers, rinse them in cold water for a few seconds before infusing them. 

  • add 5 flower petals or 2 tbsp. orange flower water to 250 ml (1 cup) boiling water    
  • infuse for 20 minutes; strain; 
  • if you're going to drink the infusion, sweeten with honey and drink while hot.

In the kitchen

During blossom season, the tops of the orange branches are covered with bunches of white flowers. Once the little fruits appear, the petals fall to the ground and are collected as quickly as possible so that they don't lose their whiteness. They're immediately distilled to make this wonderful orange flower water that flavors Mediterranean desserts and Middle Eastern sweets. 

At the famous pheasant banquet given in Lille in 1454 by Duc Philip the Good of Burgundy, "orange water," as it was then called, spewed forth not from a fountain but from a giant replica of the Château de Mélusine - Since the whole medieval period was centered around fortresses, an image of safety and strength, the cooks of the era liked to sculpt turrets and have liquids flow forth like a rain of arrows. 

They say in Provence that orange flower water is as indispensible as salt in the kitchen. It flavors many regional pastries and sweets. At Christmas it's customary to distribute "fougassettes niçoises" after Midnight mass: they're little buttery braided breads flavored with orange flower water and saffron, and sometimes contain candied citron.


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