Monday, November 9, 2009

Laurus nobilis, bay laurel distiallation and Penoel

Well, its been a long time since I posted.. so many things have happened, so many plants got collected and distilled..its just been a very busy time, however, I will try to follow up.

In early september we collected and distilled Bay Laurel leaf, Laurus nobilis. The leaves have to dry before distillation, and then the plantmaterial has to be 'comminuted', that is shredded or cut just before distillation. That is, because the small glandular structures accumulating the essential oil in the leaves are hidden inside the leafs structure. You might have noticed, that laurel leaves almost do not smell, if you sniff the entire leaf or just touch it. You'll have to crush it, before it releases its aroma. This is different with aromatic plants which accumulate essential oil in hairlike glandular structures situated on the surface of the leaves, like thyme.

Anyway, we shred the bay leaves at the distillery, just before filling them into the stills. We use an electric shredder, as you can see.. one of those used for shredding twigs and leaves for compost in private gardens..

This is the only distillation that initially involves noise due to the shredding...
On one of these distillation days, we had a visit from Dr. Daniel Penoel and his wife Rosemarie. Dr Penoel is one of the pioneers in medical aromatherapy, having worked with essential oils in medicine for over 30 years, as a practitioner, writer, researcher and teacher. So we had a very inspiring time together, while the Laurus leaves were distilling... Many inspiring thoughts on essential oils to use for holistic, integrative healing.. On quality, analyses and uses...

Babis, Daniel and RoseMarie at the distillery...

That day, during distillation, we experienced a water-cut for the very first time.. The water supply was cut of centrally due to maintenance.. Luckily RoseMarie noticed straight away, as we were washing greens for salad, that the water had stopped running... so we had to carry water in large barrels from the next village and improvise a funnelsystem to constantly add cooling water
into the container by hand..

However, we managed that problem, and a few hours later we drew the oil...
Here you can just see it starting to come from the separator

We had a very inspiring day with Daniel and RoseMarie, they are dedicated, knowledgeable, curious, and genuine nice persons.. and then, Laurus distillation is always wonderfully fragrant, uplifting..

A few days later, we went back towards the South: the many weeks of Vitex agnus castus (chastetree or monkspepper) fruit collection were to commence...

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