Orange Flower comes from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, Citrus sinensis. The bitter orange plant actually gives us four fragrant oils. The steam distillation of the blossoms is the coveted neroli. When an absolute is made of the same flowers it is referred to as orange blossom absolute. The pressed rinds delivers bitter orange essential oil and the unripe green fruit, stems and twigs give us petitgrain oil.
Bitter orange is a peculiar kind of citrus. It is fresh yet dry and elegant with a lasting sweet undertone. It's blossoms have a light, dry nature. They produce one of my absolute favorite scents in all of creation, the coveted orange blossom. I should really live near orange groves.
Orange flower water is the water left over after the blossoms have been distilled to make essential oil. The blossoms are put into a vessel and steam is forced through it. The steam collects in another vessel with the essential oil floating on top. The oil is syphoned off, the water remaining is the hydrosol.
The scent is sublime. It is floral, fruity with a hint of green, refreshing and very complex. When inhaled orange blossom is antidepressant and a mild sedative, so useful at night to ease insomnia. It has a joyous, uplifting quality. It stops caffeine jitters and is a great choice for fretful babies. It is known for its supportive qualities during the detoxification process or when quitting an addictive habit.
Neroli is a wonderful treatment for delicate, sensitive and oily skin (due to its astringency). Use it as a toner and in face masks with clay and honey. It can also be used as a perfume!
Both rosewater and orange flower water have been used in cooking and baking for centuries. Indian and Middle Eastern desserts are often delicately flavored with them. It is what's used to flavor madeleines and prompted Marcel Proust to remember the past. It's also often used to flavor marshmallows. Add it to champagne as an aphrodisiac, or if you're not inclined to drink alcohol add it to plain seltzer. One tablespoon in a liter of seltzer would befit a toast at any occasion. It's one of my favorite summer refreshers.
I've bottled some up in vintage bottles I found on the beach, all one of a kind. You can see them, and other hydrosols, in my Etsy