Orange flower water

For the 2004 play, see Orange Flower Water.

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 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),[1] or the Samsa in Tunisia [2] or in Moroccan coffee,[3] but has more recently found its way into Western cuisine. 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 tummy ache and given to babies as well as adults.[4]

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.

By country and region

In Greece and Cyprus orange blossom water is called anthonero (ανθόνερο) while in Malta it is known as Ilma Żahar.

In the Levant, orange blossom water is known as May Zahr, in Morocco Ilma Zhar and in Algeria Ma Zhar, in Moroccan / Algerian languages meaning "orange blossom water",[5] in contrast to May Ward or Ilma Ward, which is rose blossom water. Orange blossom water serves two purposes in Algeria and Morocco. One usage is as a perfume or freshener, usually given to guests to wash their hands upon entering the host house or before drinking tea. It is put in a special silver or metal container, recognizable in the Algerian or Moroccan tea set. However, this old custom is fading away in the present day. The main usage of orange blossom water, however, is in Algerian cuisine and Moroccan cuisine, especially as an ingredient for traditional sweets and sometimes to aromatize drinks such as coffee.[6]


There are many brands available that are made in North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. There are also several brands made in Canada and in the United States.

See also


  1. VelSid. "Agua de Azahar".
  2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Taste of Beirut. Accad, Joumana.
  5. zhar, in standard Arabic blossoms, means specifically orange blossoms in the Maghreb. See Harrell, Richard S.: Dictionary of Moroccan Arabic (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press)
  6. Christine Benlafquih. "Moroccan Recipes with Orange Flower Water". Food.
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