Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rosemary Hydrosol and Weekend Twaddling

In the al-embic this morning is a lovely mash of rosemary leaf and flowers. While preparing the mash, I was overcome by a pollen induced sneezing fit -- though I must admit, it actually began Friday evening while collecting dirt at the farm. The best dirt, according to my mother, is that which lies beneath the 100-year-old bay tree, which is in full, robust bloom. Have you ever smelled a blooming bay? It's intoxicating. It almost smells like jonquil, deeply floral and headily sweet. It also sent me into a full blown hay fever lock down. I sneezed every three or four seconds for 15 minutes straight, then settled to a more reasonable rate of a sneeze per 15 minutes, 'til I returned home and slept in fits and starts, sneezing, wiping, blowing, cursing, until I was awoken at 3 AM by a horrendous crashing sound, which I honestly thought was someone falling through the ceiling from the apartment upstairs. But alas, as usual, it was the upstairs neighbor arguing with her boyfriend, who she insists on not calling her boyfriend, instead calling the young man her 'lover', like she's some tragically misunderstood and romantic character in a Gothic novel, when the reality is that she drinks too much vodka. It's too busy to explain. At any rate, there they were, yelling, throwing things, stomping, hopping, jumping, and who knows what else, when the police showed up, slapped both their drunken bottoms in cuffs and carted them off to jail ~ at 5 AM.  I can only hope that a trip to the pokey has taught Miss Tragic to lay off the fantasies -- and the vodka. But again, I can only hope.

So the al-embic is bubbling away and I think what may be a gorgeous rosemary hydrosol with tons of floating spheres of rosemary oil included will be the result. I've never distilled rosemary with its flower before. I love how sparkling rosemary is, how invigorating and joyous and happy an herb it is. I also picked a basket full of blue violas and dropped them into a bottle of organic grain alcohol. Within moments the alcohol took on a dark violet hue and smelled stunningly violet-y and sweet, reminding me so much of the Chowards Violet Mints that I could literally eat an entire package of in a sitting. I should be on that show about people with strange obsessions, mine would be eating food that tastes of violets.


  1. If I'm not mistaken, rosemary in bloom has a different chemotype (verbenone) which is softer and less camphoraceous. Regardless, it is a warm, herbal fragrance that balances the other major player in my garden, orange blossom. Think eau de cologne. My bay is blooming up a storm too, but not really fragrant. Maybe I should go out and pick some flowers to see if I'm mistaken. So glad I'm over those allergies. Ingesting local bee pollen helped me about 20 years ago. Speaking of bees, they're the main reason I don't prune my rosemary. Yesterday I had 6 bee visitors in my kitchen who's hairy little legs were laden with pollen balls.

    1. Thanks for the information. I didn't trim too much of the blooms on the rosemary for that exact reason -- I waited until dusk to prune as well so the bees wouldn't be buzzing around and accidentally get tossed into the bucket with the rosemary. I did feel a little guilty stealing some of their blossoms, but I left them much, much more than I took. I was tempted to pick some bay blossoms and distill those, but after that reaction I decided I would rather breathe. I used to take bee pollen years ago but quit, can't say for sure why. I should take it up again. This is the first year in a lot of years I've had so bad a reaction to the spring. The hydrosol is very low-toned and warm compared to the raw plant, not as pitchy and green.



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