Elderflower Hydrosol

I’m Donna La Pre and I’m a local natural perfumer
and apothecary products maker and I use mostly organic ingredients that I source from my
biodynamic gardens and I’m here at Susan Leopold’s Indian Pipe Plant Sanctuary harvesting elderflower
blossoms for a hydrosol which is a byproduct if you’re distilling essential oil or if you
do as I do and make a hydrosol just as a dedicated hydrosol for therapeutic purposes. Hydrosol is somewhere in between homeopathic
herbal tincture and essential oil. It’s very potent, there’s no alcohol involved. There’s no glycerite for people who are very
sensitive and with this elderflower, typically if you’re getting a cold or a flu a couple
of spritzes in the mouth or a tablespoon of the hydrosol will nip it in the bud, where,
instead of having to take teas or tinctures for days and days and days. So it’s very gentle but incredibly potent. So, that’s what I make and these are perfect. I was looking for plants that are full of
pollen and fragrant and a little bit overripe is not bad when you’re doing elderflower. Each plant has its right moment of distillation
and this is the right moment for elderflower. The copper stills the plant waters come truer
to the plant. They’re sweeter aromatically, they’re much
more like the plant and they’re not sour so I’m filling this. I got that and now I’m going to put the elderflower
into the column, just this part, and you don’t want to pack it so full that you know, it
can’t breath in there because the steam has to circulate and you’ll see it goes up into
the next part into the dome with the bird beak which is this thing and it’s got a temperature
gauge on it so you can see when it’s getting ready to boil and I also, I always, it’s my
thing, you can hydrodistill if you’re doing delicate things like rose petals. I would put them into the pot rather than
the column but even when I’m steam distilling I put some in for the pot because it’s just
my little thing, like um, I don’t know, an ode to the plant spirits. When you start by picking it properly, then
the whole process of right temperature for the water, the steam, keeping the condenser
cool, and of course clean equipment and then refrigeration. That all is necessary if you want a shot at
a good distillation, and hopefully you get one, and you might not, but I would say 99
percent of the time if you’re that sensitive to what you’re doing it will, but I have tasted
a lot of hydrosols that are just water with essential oil put in or they’re really poorly
distilled and they taste like water. They have no complexity. They don’t have a top note. They don’t have back notes. They don’t have any medicinal properties. It’s totally not what I’m after. I’m after the authentic. So I’m cooling the condenser water because
the condenser coil is where the magic happens. It’s where the volatile oils get captured
and dissolved actually in the hydrosol water and the condenser needs to be kept cool. So when I see the steam around the coil, it’s
my signal to cool it off and that’s also when the distillate is flowing and you know, it
just comes out in little bits at a time. So it steams, that’s usually a signal something’s
going to happen, then it steams and trickle trickle trickle. It comes out. So what happens when I’m done with this is
I will scoot home and I will put it in a clean little jar that’s waiting, label it, and put
it in the fridge. This has no preservatives and um, hydrosols
tend to be a little bit high pH wise so they tend more towards the acidic and that helps
preserve them. Then I will bottle it up, I’ll show you. So I just use this little mister bottle and
I put one of my nice labels on it and I write the date of this batch. They have a shelf life of anywhere from a
year to two years if they’re properly made and stored well, so you do want to keep them
in the fridge. A lot of people don’t know that you can take
hydrosols internally and you can use them topically for skin conditions or just for
like an energy shift depending on which it is but I think we were talking before…the
elderflower really is antiviral, it’s antibacterial, it’s anti fungal. It really does a lot in hydrosol form. It crosses a lot of boundaries that are usually
set up in herbalism. It crosses a lot of those typical applications
if you take a little spritz of the elderflower hydrosol at the onset of a respiratory cold
or flu, you can just completely knock it out if it’s a good distillation so I love it. It’s quick. It’s gentle but very potent.

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