Friday, March 2, 2012
Way back in the nineties I was gifted a tiny cobalt blue vial of a Jasmine enfleurage from France. It was extremely special because of its rarity and cost. I've cherished it ever since and never really considered doing the process myself...until now.
The process can be seen really well in the 2006 film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" when the lead character Jean-Baptiste Grenouille goes to Grasse and is seen delicately pressing flowers into fat.
Enfleurage is defined as a process of absorbing the aroma of fresh plant material, usually a single flower, into fat. The systematic repetition of adding and removing the flowers may be over a period of many days.
Since the pink jasmine, Jasminum polyanthum, is now blooming here in SoCal I have finally delved into this technique using some key pointers from a soap maker in Valencia, California named Jo Lasky. My first batch is made with flowers from my small, somewhat neglected pink jasmine. As soon as the mango butter arrives I will be going into full production mode using the pink jasmine planted at my mothers house in Encino more than ten years ago when I lived there.
In the meantime here is what I've done on a small scale and what you can do if so inspired:
1. I gently melted some organic virgin coconut oil I had on hand and poured it into a shallow glass dish.
2. I harvested the fresh pink jasmine flowers.
3. Once the coconut oil had solidified, I made sure the flowers had no moisture and gently laid them face down on the top of the fat.
4. I then covered the dish to make sure the aroma chemicals emanating from the blossoms were contained within an insulated headspace
5. Once the flowers have been spent, probably in about 72 hours, I will remove them and add new ones, repeating this process until the butter is fully charged with the scent of the blossoms.
6. Traditionally an enfleurage would then be washed in alcohol to become an absolute. My intention is to use the enfleurage for the body butters I have been formulating.
Once my Jasmin sambac, Gardenia and Plumeria start blooming I will begin this technique with those blossoms as well.
Images and content ©Roxana Villa