Gardening Gardenias for Perfumery
by Ane Walsh
In my backyard there is a gardenia bush and it started flowering since 2007. In the years before, the flowers were so few and I didn't have the idea of infusing them. Since then I have been reading about enfleurage in animal fat, and I thought I should try to do something with those gardenias and fat, even if it was not animal, but any vegetable fat or oil and I chose a mixture of sunflower, grape seed and fco. I read about Mono and I thought it was good to try. Gardenias were there.
And I did.
I infused a few flowers in oil and waited till next day. I knew the flowers should be taken out from the oil as soon they were transparent, otherwise they would start to oxidize.
Perfect so I waited them to be transparent and to my surprise, the oil had a faint smell very similar to the flower. I kept repeating the operation till the last of the 27 flowers were spent, of course in the same oil. The bush produce 3 to 6 new flowers a day in full season. I kept changing them.
My husband was a bit cross because he expected some flowers and I had them all. In 2008, I kept the same liter of flower oil to concentrate and I made everything again in the same process keeping three lovely flowers in the stem for the benefit of the gardener. In 2009, I thought it would be the last time. The oil was completely saturated. I would not improve much and would waste oil if I kept infusing. So it is a three year maceration.
Gardenias have a really strong aroma and are easy flowers to infuse in oil, like jasmine, orange flower and fresh chamomile and I think that every flower will let its scent be stolen in oil rather than alcohol that shrinks them. After the three dozen flowers from last year I determined the end of my second "enfleurage" in oil. Jasmine grandiflorum is my first. If you want to give it a try, it is easy enough, keep changing the flowers in the same oil many many times. When you find the oil will not get any more smell, it is ready.
Ane Walsh is a brilliant Natural Botanical Perfumer and soap maker living in Brazil with her English husband and her various and sundry exotic flowering plants that she uses extensively in her perfumes. Ane has just completed three years of formal Natural Botanical Perfume training and has opened her very first perfumery ~ Ane Walsh, Artesa Perfumista.