Arabesque’s 2015 Fragrant Distillations

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Every Summer I distill aromatics with my small copper tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. The result – fragrant, steam-distilled hydrosols – are aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary treasures!

On offer this year are the fresh-distilled hydrosols of Witch Hazel, made from organic Witch Hazel Bark, Vetiver Root Hydrosol from Vetiver I imported from Madagascar, Spearmint harvested fresh from my garden, and wildcrafted Melissa or Lemon Balm.

They are available in my Etsy shop June-September and also by special request. An excellent resource for learning how to integrate the use of hydrosols into your daily life is Suzanne Catty’s Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy available on Amazon in a hard copy or via Kindle.

My first distillation of 2015 happened on May Day Eve, as pictured in sequential steps below, courtesy of my botanist friend, Ty Wheeler. The result was a fresh and — we thought, quite surprisingly floral –Spearmint hydrosol.

Pictured left to right, below, are my beautiful plant materials, gathered in preparation for several distillations: Fresh Spearmint from my garden, soaking in the round bowl is Organic Witch Hazel bark, and soaking on the right in the rectangular bowl is Vetiver root from Madagascar.

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For a single distillation, fresh, clean water must first be added to the copper still. In my case, I used fresh, Northern California well water!

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Then the fragrant plant material is added. It rests in a metal and mesh basket on top of the fresh water inside the copper container. When it reaches the proper temperature the hot water then passes upwards and through the plant material, producing a fragrant steam which results in our end product – a hydrosol.

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Here I am preparing the still for the distillation…  it is important all screws are tightened and seals are properly closed to enable the hot water and steam to travel through their required channels.

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Time to hit that glowing red button and begin the distillation, which typically takes about an hour and a half. (And, yes, enjoy a beer or, in my case a Dark and Stormy, while we wait… )

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The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer

Peasants_breaking_bread public domain

I am pleased to announce that The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer is finally here!

The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook features a beautiful introduction by my friend and mentor, Suzanne Catty. It is a labor of love that I have been writing in both my heart and my head for several years now. The black and white cookbook with color front page illustration (pictured) is approximately 70 pages in length, 8 1/2″ x 11″ spiral-bound, soft-cover, with 48 or so recipes to suit vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

My recipes have a simple, earthy, Mediterranean emphasis to them and the cookbook features aromatic tips and recipes that are a meaningful part of my own daily life and seasonal cycles.

The book is illustrated by beautiful and charming 14th century images taken from a medieval herbal on health and well-being, The Tacuinum Sanitatis. And at the back of the book is a rich Resources section with information on where to get aromatic supplies and ingredients, a list of my favorite cookbooks and aromatic research books, helpful organizations of interest, shopping tips for avoiding GMO’s in your cooking, etc.

There are two ways to purchase the cookbook:
1. You can email me from your Paypal address at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com and I can send you a Paypal invoice.
2. You can purchase it from my Etsy shop.

The cookbook is $28.50 plus $5.50 Priority insured shipping within the US = $34.00 total.
(If you are outside of the US, or wish to order multiple copies, please let me know and I can get you a shipping quote, make you a customized Etsy listing, etc.)

Inscriptions and gift cards are available upon request, and please note that the Etsy coupon code is not valid for cookbook purchases. The first copies of the Fragrant Kitchen cookbook ship Priority Mail on December 10th.

With excitement! And thanks!
And a warm, happy, fragrant and cozy holiday season to you all.
~Kirsten

Cover art: “Peasants breaking bread.” Livre du Roi Modus et de la Reine Ratio, 14th century. Collection: Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

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