The fridge is filled with oranges. A gift box of Florida grapefruit sits in the cellar. Delicious Moroccan clementines are as normal for breakfast as toast and tea. Anyone who does not believe how wealthy we really are has yet to spend a quarter hour in a supermarket.
I tried to explain to my daughter that once there was a Christmas tradition that a good child received an orange while a bad child got a lump of coal. My daughter knows what coal is. Shes seen me at the barbecue and that is close enough. But that oranges in winter could be prized gifts? Oh yeah, right.
Now that oranges are available year round, we take them for granted. Sometimes I just want to savour the flavouruse it sparingly but enjoy it fully. The general rule when cooking with orange flavour is to use orange juice, orange zest or bottled orange essence. However, if I use enough orange juice to get the flavour I want, I have to adjust the other ingredients. Scraping an orange to get its zest is aggravatingly futile. It is also a good way to hack my thumb when all I need is a little concentrated flavour for a marinade or a muffin mix. And most brands of liquid extracts use artificial ingredients. They taste bitter or weak. My house is awash with citrus and there is not a drop to use.
Fortunately, there is Boyajian, the only manufacturer I have found who makes pure citrus oils. This is a Boston-based company whose products are sold in several Montreal food specialty stores. As you will see, this is a flavour with an identity crisis.
The Boyajian family makes cold pressed oils from oranges, lemons and limes. This is powerful stuff. For example, 220 oranges go into a five ounce bottle. The flavour is sumptuous. It is sufficiently concentrated that as little as a 1/2 teaspoon can be added to cake batter for a tangy orange flavour without having to augment other ingredients. A quarter teaspoon is enough to change the flavour of a custard, marinade, or whipped cream. A couple of drops leaves plain yogurt creamy and infused with the essence of fresh oranges.
If you are not keen to use orange oil as a flavour, consider its other potent qualities. A food importer says that a few drops of orange oil added to vegetable oil makes an aromatic citrus candle. Friends who live in the country claim that, mixed with water in a spray bottle, orange oil is strong enough to remove skunk odor from a dog and stains from a carpet. When I called John Boyajian to ask about his product, he said he was using it to clean grease from machinery. Try doing that with clementines. Maybe I should get two bottlesone for the refrigerator, and the other for the tool chest.