© B Massaad - Mouneh
Orange Blossom Harvest in Maghdouche
In spring time, it is an enriching experience to walk through a grove of orange trees blossoming with white flowers and bursting with fragrance. I’ve had many occasions to experience this romantic stroll throughout my journey. When you see, touch and smell these flowers you have the impression that they are declaring the coming of spring.
Magdousheh, a small town about 50 km (31 mi) south of Beirut, is reputed for its orange groves and its annual orange blossom water production. It is situated at an altitude of about 300 m (984 ft) above sea level. The town overlooks the Mediterranean Sea with its prominent pilgrimage site—home of the church of Our Lady of Mantara. On one of my visits I was accompanied by Oussama Amoun, a local resident and producer. We walked through the whole town meeting with people and discussing the year’s orange blossom yield. During the season, villagers scatter through the groves and private gardens working simultaneously to harvest their prized orange blossom flowers. A faint perfume accompanies you as you walk through the streets. There is a certain ambiance unseen elsewhere in Lebanon at that particular moment. The tiny white flowers are laid out, scattered on empty large white bags. Distillers of different sizes and shapes are washed and set up carefully to ensure a proper yearly production. Farmers and producers of Magdousheh pride themselves on a superior quality of distilled orange blossom water. They insist that the trees should not be irrigated during the hot summer months. In fact, it is this hearty resistance which makes the flowers superior, thereby resulting in a higher quality product.
|Oussama Amoun my guide to the wonders of Maghdouche|
Traditionally, most households in Lebanon made their annual production of orange blossom water at home using a family alembic. Today, it is not unusual to find families gathered at a town center where the communal karakeh is set up with large bags of orange blossom flowers. Production is mainly reserved to villagers who keep the traditional distillation process alive.
© Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry (2018 / Interlink)
Lebanon Travel has recently worked on a short film to show you the best of Maghdoushe, thus the reason I wanted to share more information about this beautiful town and its people.
"The southern town of Maghdoushe has a beautiful story to tell. From its religious sites to its agricultural traditions, we share its many wonders"