06 July 2011

France and the Enfleurage Process

In 1656 the popularity of scents and a new fashion for "perfumed gloves" began to spread across France, there was even a Perfume Guild set up in Grasse. The use of perfume became so widespread and grew so fast that it lead to the court of Louis XV being dubbed the "Perfume Court".
During the 16th and 17th Century, Grasse (Southern France) became a centre for growing, extraction and distillation of essential oils.

This meant France quickly became the perfume capital of the world leading to large scale cultivation and processing of valuable plants for oils such as rose, becaming centred there. It was the place where techniques were developed and refined.

The Enfluerage process was also refined in this region. It was a very long and arduous process that required a vast stock of the base raw material. However if done correctly it could produce pure oil with an extremely refined flavour profile.
The process entailed laying out flowers, such as jasmine, on trays of fat.

These trays would then be leftto sit in a luke warm room. During which time the fat would seep into the flower absorbing the oils and flavour from it. Later, through traditional distillation the fat would be extracted and then concentrated into an absolute.

Unfortunately the process is rarely used today as relative to the amount of work put in, it gleans a fairly low yield. (We know this from experience. About a metre squared of Jasmine Flower left us with around 5 ml of pure oil after distillation.)

The technique came back into "Fashion" for a while once the film "Perfume - The Story of Murderer" was realeased and we saw a small rise in use-age from boutique perfume producers. However compared with the technology and techniques now available it is bound to fall by the wayside if favour of more cost worthy and effective techniques once again.


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