Floral waters by distillation

I generously was given a small copper still by HH for Christmas.

I only got around to using it recently when a couple of friends prompted me to use it. We meet up monthly to experiment on all things herbal. With our recent trials under my belt I thought I would see how elderflower works.

In general  flowers and petals don’t work too well; the steam being too harsh and causing the petals to go all soggy and impact into the perforated container so that the steam doesn’t penetrate well, or falls back into the bottom section of the still. However I’d heard good things about elderflower water so thought I’d give it a try.

I collected an entire bag of elderflower blossoms.

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Treating the process as I would anything herbal with the plant I stripped the flowers from the stalks – an extremely laborious process.

It seemed to take forever to work my way through the bag, while the amount in the holding vessel never seemed to increase 😦

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Eventually finishing the separating of the petals, boiling water was put in the base unit, the flowers above that and the swan neck on top. I made a paste/ putty out of flour and water to seal the joins.

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A hose was connected to the cold tap to provide running water in a condenser unit.  I started to smell the most amazing aroma as low as 50 C. Fresh, light, potent and floral.

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I do wonder if the water I managed to get has any redeeming features as it came off at 100 C, hopefully not destroying fragile components. Reassuringly the water I got at the higher temperature still has a pleasant smell and taste.

There was a fine layer on top that may well be an oil from the resin off of the pollen. The water had a subtle but nice smell, always a bit green; is this from the flowers themselves or from the tiny stalks that still worked their way into the the mix?

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i bottled up 3 small , clip lid syrup bottles and 2 wee 20 ml jam pots. I’ll use the bottled floral water (stored in fridge) in face creams but use the jam jars as a toner on its own to see how it feels and behaves.

I’ll keep you posted on how it performs and how long it keeps.

Overall a worthwhile experiment, if only for that amazing initial smell; it lifted the whole room and my spirits with it! Now if I could only capture that smell (disturbing images from the film Perfume running through my head now , though that probably says more about me than the scent!).

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