I love my orange tree! (citrus sinensis) The blossoms in the spring are fragrant and inspiring. The fruit brings me joy during the chill of early winter. It is reasonably low maintenance and provides me with a wide variety of uses.
Along with the simple pleasure of picking a fresh orange to eat, my crop is also used to make delicious jars of marmalade, squeezed into wonderful fresh juice, and are a key ingredient in my beloved orange butter! Sweet oranges are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C and potassium.
Nearly all varieties of oranges can be used medicinally, even tangerines and satsumas. Neroli oil is actually produced from the bitter, sour aurantium orange.
Medicinal Uses of the Sweet Orange Tree
In the spring, blossoms can be harvested and used for a relaxing tea. It soothes and calms nerves and can help with a mild upset stomach.
I place a tarp or large plastic trash bag at the base of my tree. In the morning, before the sun gets too warm, I pick up as many dropped blossoms as possible.
Once inside, I rinse them thoroughly. If I’m not using them immediately, I place them on a paper towel in the kitchen window seal. When they have completely dried, I store them in a glass jar in a dark, cool cabinet where they will last for months.
Another practice with orange blossoms is to create orange flower water through steam distillation. This water can help with uneasiness, shock or insomnia.
In the winter I save as many orange rinds as possible. They can be used fresh or dried. Once thoroughly dried they can be stored in glass jars and kept in a cool, dark cabinet for future use. Orange rind from the sweet orange tree has wonderful mucus relief properties when brewed as a tea or decoction.
My sons have plenty experience with Mom’s Tummy Mint Tea. Here is how I make this:
- Combine 1 T. dried mint, 1 chamomile bloom, and 1 dried orange rind (about 1/8 of the orange)
- Place these in an enamel pot, with about 2 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain into a coffee cup and add a teaspoon or two of raw honey.
This makes the best tea for an upset stomach and wet cough. Orange rind tea, or decoction, can also ease menstrual pain.
If you are unable to grow your own oranges, consider purchasing organic oranges and saving the rinds.
One of my primary sources is: The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody.
Backyard Medicine Cabinet by Rosemary Gladstar
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