I am coming to the end of my Sicilian stay, and this year I managed to be there for orange blossom season even if I arrived at the tail end of the season. I had Amy come back to visit, and one of the first things we did was to go down to the citrus grove to pick enough blossom to make our jam. Most of the blossom had gone but there were still enough for us to pick to make our jam. And the fact that the blossom was nearing the end of its life made it easier to pick. All we had to do was to shake the branches for the petals to fall off the buds and into our basket. Well, not all the petals but at least half. Here below are pics of Amy reaching high up in the tree to get some really good blossom to add to those that fell off easily.
This year we did our jam in instalments. The task is arduous , or to be more accurate time consuming and picking the blossom off the tree is the easy part. Once we had enough blossom, we had to painstakingly pick the petals off the buds being careful not to get any of the pollen bits in with the petals. We picked the blossom on different days and prepared the jam with the blossom we picked on the day. But we made the syrup in one go, preparing enough for the recipe that you will eventually find in my forthcoming book, Sweet Middle East (also available for pre-order here and here), to be published in the US in November. And below, you see our first meager harvest in Mary‘s large wicker basket which we were not allowed to fill anyway as each blossom means a fruit and the more we picked the less fruit on the tree! Then, Amy and I sat at the kitchen table, and carefully picked the petals off the buds one by one. And because the blossoms were at their end, this task took less than if we had picked them at their freshest. Most of the petals fell off as soon as we touched them. This was the good part.
You can see the less good part in the picture below. The blossom is not at its purest nor freshest but this didn’t affect the final result as the fragrance was intact and still very strong, and even if the blossom wasn’t all pure white, once it was boiled, the slight wilting or discoloring did not make any difference.
The process of making the jam is even longer than the preparation but it is all worth it as the jam is not only very beautiful as you can see from the top picture but it is also incredibly delicious, with a delicate fragrant taste that makes it quite unique. We served it for dessert on whipped yoghurt at the end of our roast baby lamb lunch which we had outside in the most glorious sunshine!
And we had it for breakfast, on yoghurt spread on toasted tumminia bread, as you can see in the picture below. We also ate it with sheep’s milk ricotta. Amy took some with her to California and I am taking the rest to London to have friends taste it. The good news is that if you want to make your own, my book will be out well in time for the next harvest. As for me, I will try to convince Amy to come back to Sicily next spring, all the way from California, so that we can make a fresh lot!