The spring blossoming of the orange trees was out of kilter this year. Where I normally harvest over 350 kilos of flowers this season gave us only 60kilos. It may have been the severe winter frosts or it may be other more insipid factors related to climate change, who knows? Certainly not I.
So it was a delight to move over to harvesting the leaves of the orange trees and to create the most delightful and happy, bright and sharp sweet orange leaf petitgrain.
Friends have arrived for the harvest and have adapted to the change of plan readily. Cath and Ricardo have been methodical in their harvest techniques and so far have over 40 kilos of leaf for the still.
We are in the middle of the distilling days with an aim for at least 100ml. So far we have produced 6o ml.
Now this may sound like a piddly amount to those not in the know. But here on the farm we are happy with the ratio of 2% per kilo of leaf. This is a far cry from the 0.9% obtained from the flowers of the citrus tree.
In other words from 1 kilo of leaf we can get 2ml of petitgrain oil whereas from 1 kilo of flowers we can get 0.9ml of neroli oil.
Petitgrain can be used in so many ways for general health and well being. From assisting dry skin,and oily hair to helping ease palpitations, indigestion, helps insomnia and mental fatigue and helps improve muscle tone. Isnt this marvelous from a leaf?
We have produced 15 litres of hydrosol and of course this is a loving bonus and the extra gift we recieve when distilling for essential oils. In the bath a cupful is sublime, frozen in ice cubes it is divine in a gin and tonic,spritzed onto the body it acts as a deodorant, nerve tonic and general feel good water.
After a shower give yourself a light spritz of petitgrain hydrosol to brighten your senses.
Thanks Ann for reminding me to write this.
Life on the Murray River is always full of change and challenge.
Just as the orange blossoms were ready for harvesting, the full moon and the Murray River flooding collided in our landscape.
Wet, windy weather and the flood waters peaking at the levy banks led to a rush of activity. Moving from harvest to home to farm and flowers.
But as we all know, these things pass and we are now distilling the orange blossoms.
Over 250 kilos of blossoms harvested, picked by hand and the trees gently tapped with digging sticks, the flowers fall onto the large cloths that we place under each tree.
So far we have 140 litres of sumptous floral waters and 120 ml of neroli essential oil.
This sounds like not a lot. True it isnt. But when we harvest one of the most precious essential oils on the planet it takes patience, time, skill and a happy frame of mind to entice the essence of the blossom into the bottle.
Each flower is hand picked, and then sorted so that there are no leaves, sticks, twigs, bugs or beetles. Then the blossoms are placed in the still. The making of steam takes hours.
The blossom are saturated with the steam and the molecules of oil attach to the steam. From here the steam travels into a condenser that cools the steam back into water. The oils float on top and are seperated.
A big job but Oh so worth it. For 14 days now we have been distilling the blossoms. Each day picking 20 - 30 kilos, sorting, and making oil. Smelling the neroli oil day in and day out certainly makes me feel relaxed.
The blossom season is nearly over until next Spring when the orange blossoms flower once again.
Happy flowers make happy essential oils.
July on the Murray River saw glorious rains for the first time since who knows when. The turtles came out to lay eggs, the rivers were topped up and the little plant known as Old Man Weed (Centipede Cunninhamii) perked up and stands taller on the edges of the water. Nearly time to harvest the plant and put it through the Alembic Still.
Drove 7 hours to deliver the Eucalyptus Dives to the hand crafted copper still. She is in and about to release her character.
On a cold windy day in August my girlfriend and I drove to Peppermint Lane and found the Old Peppermint Gums and immediately smelt the fresh minty gum leaves. We were delighted and began to harvest and wildcraft the leaves. After sometime the back of the ute was full and we drove slowly homeward to Millthorpe.
Eucalyptus Dives has a gentle mint smell that is fresh and clean, This harvest will travel back with me to Torrumbarry to be put into the still tomorrow. I am looking forward to the moment the oil drips from the condenser and into the bottle.
The hydrosol or floral water will be decanted into larger bottles and made into balms and spritz for use in the future. Isn't nature bountyful.