Hydrosols- Establishing Shelf Life and Stability
Generally hydrosols with a pH of 5.0 or less last longer than hydrosols with a pH over 5.0. As a very broad rule of thumb, I rate those under 5.0 pH at two years and over 5.0 pH at twelve to eighteen months. There are some exceptions, of course. I rate bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) at eight to ten months only. Although it is 4.9 to 5.0 pH, bay is quite unstable and will easily go off, even when kept sealed and under refrigeration.
I would like to get my hands on some bay with a 3.9 pH as listed by Franchomme and Penoel, to see if it lasts any longer. Perhaps it is the nature of the plant material, perhaps it is the distillation, but it is fragile. It is also very difficult to get a good one. I have had bay from four different sources and two were downright awful: musty, tasting more like branch or weed, no spice, no complexity, no relation to the plant I so love.
The other two were both good , but only one of them were excellent, I always try to buy laurel from this distiller now, and this is the one that has achieved the brilliant and remarkable results in dealinfg with swollen lymph nodes.This hydrosol is very close to the oil in smell and tastes just like the fresh leaf picked from the tree. I used to have an ancient bay growing near my house in England , and we would wander up the hill whenever supplies were low and pick what we needed for the kitchen.
The tree was magical, full of faeries I'm sureand although I already had a strong love for the herb in cooking, I developed a special resonance and love for this tree and its gifts of flavor and smell. If you are lucky enough to live in a climate that allows you to grow bay trees, do it! You will never regret it,and although they grow slowly, they live longer-much longer than you will.
Another fragile hydrosol is juniper berry. Again this is odd, because juniper's pH is usually 3.3 to 3.6, so one would assume that the shelf life should be long, but that's not always the case. Juniper berry water tends to grow gray, frog's-eggs-like spiraling mold if you let it bloom; this bloom is very distinctively different from any of the blooms in other hydrosols. It always fascinates me to see what form a bloom will take, but the grayness and spiral of the juniper is most unique.
Somehow I feel it is energetically quite different, taking the form of a spiral. Spirals are a powerful geometry and exists in many forms in nature, from how leaves appear on branches to the convolutions of seashells to water turbulence. Bearing in mind the vibrational properties of juniper, it is perhaps not surprising that the bloom assumes the DNA-like spiral, and I don't mind terribly if I miss the cues in pH change and lose some juniper to bloom; it's intriguing.
My two suppliers of juniper hydrosols both sell essential oils of juniper branch with berry and pure juniper and pure juniper berry but offer hydrosols only of the berry, so I assume that they are telling the truth and that there are no branch or green material in the distillation that produces the hydrosol.
The chemistry of the branch oil differs greatly from that of the berry oil, as does the cost. The berry oil is much lower in monoterpenes and in therapeutic applications would be a better choice if you had concerns about kidney health; however, the berry oil costs about twice what the branch or branch-and berry oil costs, so ost people don't use it.
The fragrance of the pure berry oil is more rarefied, as well, and is my personal preference. I have never seen a hydrosol offered of the branch or branch -and-berry distillation; I don't know why except to assume that the extremely high terpene constituents of the oil, which are non-water-soluble, make this hydrolate rather uninteresting from a therapeutic viewpoint. Whatever the reason may be, this is one of the "fragile" hydrosols, and I normally give it only twelve-months shelf life.
Reference: Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy: Suzanne Catty
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