Making Orange Blossom Water And Rose Water From Scratch
So my roommate (from all four years in College) and I decided to team-up and make some good ol' Orgeat. The idea came when I was watching something on the food channel about how to make Orgeat. My first thought was, what is that? My second thought was, Kelsi probably knows! After a few snapchats, the rest was history and we decided to do a double blog post on this. You will see why below.
Orgeat (debate-ably pronounced in America as OR-ZSA or OR-JAHT) is:
A Rich, Fragrant almond syrup...[it] has been a go-to cocktail ingredient for over 100 years, especially in Tiki drinks like the Mai Tai (Jeff Berry)
My friend Kelsi runs a tiki enthusiast blog called Modern Tiki Lounge where one of the main ingredients in Tiki cocktail making is Orgeat! Another key ingredient to the Orgeat itself are floral waters - particularly orange blossom or rose waters!! Cue me running in with my alembic still from Elfin Farms ready to go make some hydrosols - distilled less concentrated essential oils in water, also known as flower water!
Kelsi handled the Almonds part of the Orgeat, I tackled the floral waters. The next step was wild harvesting some orange blossoms and rose petals (especially since they are in season right now!). Disclaimer: The day before Kelsi and I made Orgeat, a wind storm blew all the orange blossoms off the trees at my friend's house, so I had to make due with the hearty lemon blossoms on my tree outside.
Fresh plant material is always better because it is still rich in essential oil content. Fill the bottom bowl of the still with 2 cups of pure water and then add in enough plant material so it does not overfill the bottom bowl - there should be enough movement in there for some good boiling about to take place.
Once you set up your still (you can see it can be a complicated process) make sure you have ice in the coil (to cool the essential oils moving through) and an extra cup to catch the melting ice dripping from the back spout. You will be repeatedly adding ice as it melts until the bottom bowl is almost out of boiling water. The bottom longer spout will catch the essential oils and water. Place on high heat until there is a grand ol' boil happening then reduce it to a simmer (I usually do a high simmer).
The hydrosol/floral water making should last about one to one and half hours. Two cups of water yields about 1 cup of hydrosol. Make sure to keep an eye on it - so cozy up with a book or a laptop nearby and make sure the ice is always topped up!
Now after all that work you deserve a cocktail. Read how to complete the Orgeat recipe. Kelsi and I found that once we combined homemade floral water with the homemade sweet almond syrup, that kind of Orgeat just did not compare to store bought Orgeat or even using store bought concentrated-preservative-ridden Orange Blossom water from the store. Not surprising, considering everything tastes better when you are having fun with friends and making things from scratch at home!