It’s a real hassle to try to grow hyacinths in Miami. Yes, I can get the bulbs from a northern supplier, put them in the refrigerator to force them, try to harden the bulbs after the blooms are spent, etc., but I really don’t have the time or space for that. I’m not going to buy hyacinths from Fresh Market or Whole Foods again. This year I discovered that the local Publix has much stronger-scented ones, and since one stem of the four flowering bulbs in a pot was drooping, I got two pots for the price of one. The flowers were fine, the stem just looked awful. Into the tincture and enfleurage they go!
These processes will be documented in my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden. If you like, you can follow the posts about the book contents I write on Facebook by clicking here, and you can sign up for the newsletter here. Both sites will have giveaways when the book is published, for members of those sites only.
I can not wait to smell your latest efforst with the new kind of Hyacinths!!!! 😀
You may remember that last spring, during an Ask The Perfumer, I told you about my heirloom Roman hyacinths and asked about preservation methods. At your suggestion I tried tincturing the blossoms, but the scent did not stay — I just wound up with two bottles of grayish, bleached flowers. I only had grain alcohol on hand to do it with. Should I have used perfumer’s alcohol?
They are flowering again, and I am thinking about enfleurage, but I don’t think I’m ready to tackle that project this year, not on such short notice. 🙂
All tinctures – and enfleurages – need to be “recharged”. That means keep putting in new material and draining out the spent material until you reach the scent strength you like. One dunk won’t do it! Don’t use perfumers alcohol, use 190 grain or grape, sugar, or wheat alcohol.
Also, don’t allow the flowers to remain in the alcohol. Drain out the ones you have, and start recharging the alcohol. Make sure not to let the lid off the alcohol for more than a few seconds, as you’re doing the draining and recharging. That way you’ll avoid water being pulled into the alcohol from the atmosphere, which can be a problem.
Ah, I see. So really, the problem is probably that I don’t have enough flowers. (The bulbs for these heirloom ones are about $10 apiece, so I have been getting about one a year.) Or… how long should the alcohol stay on one batch of flowers? If I leave them unpicked they might last a week or so. That’s long enough to make an ounce or so of tincture if I recharge it a half-dozen times… am I thinking along the right lines yet?
Also, could I use the alcohol I started last year? It’s been in the cupboard — I didn’t ever take the spent flowers out (because the bottles I had handy were fairly narrow-necked and it would be fiddly to do so). I can start fresh if that would be better.
It sounds like I should probably go get a couple of small (1-2 oz) widemouth glass jars, so there isn’t too much headspace in each batch. (Headspace wasn’t an issue with last year’s, but the container was large enough that I had to use all my flowers to fill it.)