Here in California the orange blossoms are out, and the scent makes my allergies worth it. I want to send this scent to a friend in a bitterly cold place that will never know a citrus tree. How do I best capture and preserve the volatile essences? Alcohol, or some other base?
What a lovely idea to send that most heavenly scent (neroli) to a friend in a cold area.
You will need to make a strange kind of double boiler with ice on the top. this will distill the scent along with water.
Gather as many fresh flowers you can and put them into a large pot with a little water. In the center of the pot put a brick or something to elevate a bowl that is just barely smaller than the large pot.
OK? So you have a large pot with a brick inside and a bowl on that and all around the brick you have the flowers and 1 1/4 cups of water.
Find an upside down pot top that fits on the large pot and into which you can heap a lot of ice cubes. (I found a glass crock pot top at the thrift store. Glass is great, but hard plastic is OK too. It is nice to be able to see through it.)
Turn on the heat to low and simmer the water so it steams a lot. The steam will carry the fragrance into the air inside the pot with it and the ice on the outer side of the overturned pot lid will condense this mixture of water and fragrance.
Your house will fill with the fragrance, but don't worry, you are still catching a lot. If you have enough flowers for a second batch you have a choice. You can repeat this as before, or you can return this fragrant water to the pot and add more flowers and do it again.
I usually only do one batch. The first 1/2 cup is the strongest. I usually keep it going but I separate the first 1/2 cup from the rest which still smells great but is not as strong.
You can add one drop of of grapefruit seed extract if you want, but it usually lasts til next year when you can do this again.
Jeanna, I wish I'd you'd posted before I plunged ahead! I put a jar full of orange petals in a mason jar and covered them with 151 Everclear. My only whiff so far was VERY medicinal. I may try to double boil off some of the alcohol, though.
A local mediterranean food store might be a good place to look for orange blossom products. You might even find soda pop with orange blossom.
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