Orange Blossom Distillation (Archive Nov 2013)

It is mid spring here in NZ and my citrus trees are really starting to blossom despite starting their life in poor clay soil with wet feet. I moved them to higher slightly better drained ground just over a year ago. Most of the trees are blossoming so I decided to have a go at distilling some sweet orange blossom as this tree was laden with flowers, far too many to form fruit.

Ideally I would have liked to use a smaller copper still than my 20 litre copper Alembic still- but it is all I have at the moment. I hand picked the open flowers early in the day to preserve the aroma on them. I will be posting photos when I can access them!

I picked approximately 120 gm which filled about 2 cups and pakced these in the column of my still so they were  the water level. I had pre filled the base of the still with boiling water to speed up the heating and my still sits on a gas stove top element with speciality plumbing for the water and drainage. I set up the condenser and popped in my thermometer but it was here I made a near fateful mistake. The temperature was only about 20 degrees coming through the pipe so no steam was being created at that point so no need to turn on the cooling water through the condenser. I decided I had enough time to pop upstairs and make a cuppa as I expected to be sitting by my still for a while. Alas when I returned the temperature was at 90 degrees and burnt hydrosol coming out with no cooling effect on the condensor. That first 200 ml smelt cooked so I discarded it , chastised myself for being ill prepared and then sat and monitored it. From that 120 gm of flower  petals I obtained approximately 1500 ml of fairly decent hydrosol. I turned off the heat after that as the smell of the hydrosol was becoming quite faint. The time frame for this was about 40 minutes which was a lot quicker than other hydrosols I have distilled ( manuka, kanuka, Melissa)
 I was  quite pleased with that effort and I am going to repeat it next week but this time watch it more closely and put back my remaining hydrosol into the water to redistill to see if I can get a sweeter aroma. I won't make any attempt to remove oil as it is such a small amount. I prefer my hydrosols to be complete with what ever oil molecules in them to stay there.
My next attempt will be a co distillation of rosa damascena co distilled with rose geranium and steam distilled over lemon geranium hydrosol. Wouldn't it be great to aroma blogs so I can share the aroma!

Posted: Tuesday 4 January 2022