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Jasmin Grandiflorum

Jasmin grandiflorum

Oh fields! Oh fields of Grasse, oh fertile hills,
Oh cultivated crags, oh silvery sources. Oh myrtles, oh jasmines,
oh forests of orange flowers...
Abbe Cognet: A. Godeau, Bishop of Grasse and Vence(1605-1672)

Walking aimlessly through the town of Grasse... For a long time we follow low, crumbling walls, walls behind which we sense the presence of some garden from a Thousand and One Nights, with its agaves, jasmines, fountains and zulejos(blue wall tiles). The multitude of worlds ruling over the multitude of flowers. The greenery studded with white jasmines. The earth balmy with their delicious nocturnal sigh. The dominant scent was a profound and fine as the light. Two kinds of sweetness emerged; the light and the perfume. The rose would give up its soul to the sun, the jasmine to the stars.... Francis de MIOMANDRE: Grasse, 1928

Description of Jasminum Genus
Description (from Flora of China):
Trees or erect or scandent shrubs, evergreen or deciduous. Branchlets terete or angular and grooved. Leaves opposite or alternate, rarely whorled, simple, 3-foliolate, or odd-pinnate; petiole usually articulated. Inflorescences basically cymose, in panicles, racemes, corymbs, umbels, or heads; bracts subulate or linear, sometimes leafy. Flowers bisexual, usually heterostylous, usually fragrant. Calyx campanulate, cupular, or funnelform, 4-16-lobed. Corolla white or yellow, rarely red or purple, salverform or funnelform; lobes 4-16, imbricate in bud, sometimes doubled in cultivation. Stamens 2, included, inserted about middle of corolla tube; filaments short; anthers dorsifixed, introrse. Ovules 1 or 2 in each locule. Style filiform; stigma capitate or 2-lobed. Fruit a berry, didymous or one half aborted. Seeds without endosperm; radicle downward.

Simple description of Jasminum grandiflorum
Jasminum grandiflorum, (Spanish Jasmine, Royal Jasmine). A shrub/vine with very fragrant white flowers, pink in bud. Excellent everbloomer. Flowers used in perfumery. Glossy, dark green pinnate foliage; leaflets 5-7. Grows well in sun, with a well drained soil. Hardy here to 17° F, in a protected location. Native, perhaps, to Arabia. Zones 8-11.

Technical Description of Jasminum grandiflorum
Jasminum officinale Linnaeus var. grandiflorum (Linnaeus) Stokes; J. officinale f. grandiflorum (Linnaeus) Kobuski. Shrubs scandent, 2-4 m. Branchlets terete, angular or grooved. Leaves opposite, pinnatipartite or compound with 5-9 leaflets; petiole 0.5-4 cm; leaflet blade ovate or narrowly so (terminal one usually narrowly rhomboid), 0.7-3.8 ? 0.5-1.5 cm, base cuneate or blunt, apex acute, acuminate, or blunt, sometimes mucronate. Cymes terminal or axillary, 2-9-flowered; bracts linear, 2-3 mm. Pedicel 0.5-2.5 cm, middle pedicel of cymes conspicuously shorter. Calyx glabrous; lobes subulate-linear, (3-)5-10 mm. Corolla white, salverform; tube 1.3-2.5 cm; lobes often 5, oblong, 1.3-2.2 cm. Fruit not seen. Fl. Aug-Oct. 2n = 26*.

Images of Jasminum grandiflorum-
nice line drawing
nice image of flowers
http://members.aol.com/parijata/jasmin.html good image of flower http://wpni01.auroraquanta.com/pv/caledonia/perfume?sess_id=20093655267763650&
baskets of jasmin
mounds of jasmin

Jasmine Harvest
"As we proceeded toward the Nilgri Hills and entered into the countryside proper the scenery became more and more beautiful. This region of India is again another unique type of environment different than any we had yet encountered. It is a bit drier, less humid than the coastal region we had passed through on our journey to Tanjore and Madurai and totally different than the high mountain regions of Kodikannal. India is a land with an incredible diveristy of micro climates, soil types, and topographies and on this short tour we can only explore a few of them. Our bus came to a halt under some tall shade trees where a dirt road diverged from the paved country lane upon which we were traveling. Guided by our hosts, we walked up into another world which could just have well existed centuries ago.
The sun had been up for a short time when we entered the grounds of the immaculately kept Jasmin grandiflorum plantation owned by our hosts. I think we were all stunned by this scene of eternal beauty. The angelic petals of the delicate Jasmin grandiflorum buds had quietly opened in the early morning hours and the perfume floating across the fields was of an etheric odor. It is true that a well made absolute can catch a little of this essence but it can never substitute for the living experience of being in the presence of the plants and the environments in which they grow.
All nature seemed to welcome us with gladness and as we roamed through the fields we not only inhaled the intoxicating beauty of this etheric essence but our eyes feasted on hummingbirds, butterflies, coconut palms, hillocks, and many other scenes of exquisite beauty. Soon we had our baskets in hand and were participating in the morning harvest. Plucking each delicate blossom one by one, we were initiated into the astounding reality that it takes 8 million blossoms to produce one kilo of absolute. I do not thing any of us will ever use an absolute with anything but the greatest of respect after seeing what a real jasmin harvest entails.
Here we were able to see a truly organic gardening operation. Mr. Sivaramakrishna and his family were the pioneers of organic gardening practices in their region and have achieved astounding success by using green manure crops, natural compost, neem sprays, and other neem products. Both in the field and in a more formal presentation given while we had a light breakfast in the fields, he explained to us how they had been able to successfully bring organic gardening practices into the cultivation of Jasmin grandiflorum and Jasmin sambac. I think that this work that they have done will become a model for many other farms in India as it is practical, cost effective, and draws upon locally available resources. Each day has been one of increasing happiness and beauty for us and somehow visiting the Jasmin grandiflorum fields took that experience to another plane. It was like being a child again in the most wonderful sense of the word.
If one has any doubt about the true value of fragrance they should just stand in a jasmin field at dawn surrounded by the grand beauty of nature, absorbing the energy of an ancient land through every pore of their body and they will certainly know that there can be no more perfect window into a world of gentle peace and happiness. There can be no doubt that one has then to hold that window open through their own personal aspiration but first one's heart must be touched by this type of experience to remember that beyond all dark shadows and difficulties is a life of true innocense, purity and delight.
Our morning adventure continued on with visits to two more small farms where Jasmin grandiflorum and Jasmin sambac were being cultivated. At each place our lives touched and intermingled with the farming people. The bright smiles and glowing eyes of these people of the earth and sky spoke volumns. In their company ones pride fades away. One cannot think they are somehow superior to these simple folk, rather one becomes humbled before them because in their lives is written a nobility and dignity that one seldom encounters in the western world." From the journal I kept of our South India trip in 1999

"Picking, a long amd delicate operation, was done only with both hands because the flowers are very delicate and fragile and must be picked one by one by the stem to prevent the petals falling off. When you pick, you must not take the buds, otherwise the jasmin will not flower the following day. Its the agility of the fingers which counts. I, myself, pick with both hands with the basket attached to the waste. I make little fistfuls but when there are a lot of flowers, I manage to pick 7-8 kg on a good day. Once picked the flowers were laid in a basket holding 100 grams attached to the waist by a sting. An experienced picker would manage to take 25 flowers in each nand before empting it all into her basket. This required flexibility of the fingers only acquired through habital use. A good picker thus manged to harvest 500 grams to 800 grams of jasmine an hour, equal to 6-7 kilos of flowers per day.
From Jasmine by Marie Christine Grasse

excellent paper on effect of harvest time on chemical composition of Jasmin grandiflorum

SYLLABICATION: en·fleu·rage
PRONUNCIATION: nfl-räzh, -räj
NOUN: A process in making perfume in which odorless fats or oils absorb the fragrance of fresh flowers.
ETYMOLOGY: French, from enfleurer, to saturate with the perfume of flowers : en-, causative pref.; see en 1 + fleur, flower (from Old French flour, from Latin fls, flr-; see bhel-3 in Appendix I).
Enfleurage(Simple Explanation) Some flowers, such as jasmine or tuberose, have such low contents of essential oil or are so delicate that heating them would destroy the blossoms before releasing the essential oils. In such cases, an expensive and lengthy process called enfleurage is sometimes used to remove the essential oils. Flower petals are placed on trays of odorless vegetable or animal fat, which will absorb the flowers' essential oils. Every day or every few hours, after the vegetable or fat has absorbed as much of the essential oil as possible, the depleted petals are removed and replaced with fresh ones. This procedure continues until the fat or oil becomes saturated with the essential oil. Adding alcohol to this enfleurage mixture separates the essential oil from the fatty substance. Afterwards, the alcohol evaporates and only the essential oil remains.

Enfleurage(More Complete Explanation) Processing the jasmine flowers was the most delicate problem of the aromatic raw materials industry. "Enfleurage"(cold saturation) the standard treatment, gave a better output in terms of quality and quantity. In fact, the fragile nature of the jasmine excluded the use of traditional processes such as maceration or distillation. It was the process which most faithfully restord the scent of the flowers. "Enfleurage work in a manner closest, relatively speaking, to the olfactroy tract itself of the mucus membranes of our noses, where the surfaces absorb the sweet-smelling fragrances given off by the flowers one is smelling for a very short period of tiem. Our olfactory tract does not suddenly make contact with all the main aromas of the flowers by braking open fragrant cells, and the fat used in the saturation process also works like the mucous membranes by taking in their sweet smelling fragrances, almost without being in contact with the flowers, up to the point where these fragrances are no longer given off." Parfums de France An essentially female workforce carried out this cold saturation work. They began by preparing the fat, a mixuture of beef tallow and lard, washed, poured off on to canva and cast in moulds. It was heated in a steam still until completely melted, and diluted with benzoin and alum. The fat was poured into copper kettles, and stirred until in thickened and was set aside until the time when it was used in wooden containers covered thereafter with tinfoil. This work kept the perfumery busy for a large part of the month of May, at orange blossom time. "Cold saturation on lard hardened by beef tallow was carried out in a large, noisy, framinmg room. No machinery. Nothing but manual work on tooling wooden and glass frames." Then came the framing, with frames made up of plates of glass of 50 to 60 cm on each side mounted on a wooden frame. Towards the end of June, the fat or pommade was spread on each side of the pane of glass then streaked with a wooden comb to harden before the first consignments. "A woman would smear the white fat over the glass with a steel spatchula. With a five-pronged box-wood fork, she would cross-comb it it give it a greater area of contact with flowers. The woman workers used to draw these lines with their nails. The wooden tool copied their former movements with fingers parted, movements claimed for a long time to be irreplacable." The first flowers would arrive at the factory around the end of July, where they were immediately sifted. All the leaves, all loose or damaged petals, crushed, old and damp flowers had to be removed to avoid fermentation. The flowers were then taken to enfleurage(saturation) workshop where they were arranged on frames, 50 to 100 grams to each frame. As soon as they were stacked they were hermetically sealed on top of each other. Thus the perfume exhaled on the part of the flower not in contact with the fat was absorbed by the fat of the frame above. Piles of 30 to 40 frames werw made in this way. One hundred frames constituted a workship were approximately 10 women worked. After 24-48 hours, shedding began by tapping the frame against the table several times so that most of the flowers fell down. The others were removed by hand with finger tips. Everyday in order to renew the area of contact with fat, it was streaked with a wooden large fork before further shedding started. This operation was repeated until fat was saturated. "Perfection in speed at which they worked was not demanded of them., but they were asked to finish the quantity of flowers brought in from the gardens within the day." The fat was then removed from the frame with wooden spatula. They would then wash the pommade which had been thinned with alcohol. In a mixer fitted with an agitator, the fat was added, diluted by its own weight in alcohol., and it was all mixed together for 24 hours consecutively. After decanting, the excess alcohol was collected and cooled in an ice box to solidify the residual fatts. The alcohols used for was then filtered and set aside. The perfumed alcohol, was kept. This was callled the absolute frame or pommade. The enfleurage (cold saturation) technique involved a large number of frames(80,000 at Chiris, 70,000 at Roure) and the use of a large workforce. One worker tell how in 1930 up to 200 seasonal female workers were taken on to do this work.
From Jasmine by Marie Christine Grasse
*For those of you who wish to go even deeper into the subject of Enfleurage you can acquire it through reading Volume 1, Essential Oils by Ernest Guenther

wonderful images of enfleurage process that can be clicked on and expanded
stunning images of enfleurage process Note on Enfleurage Production in our times There is at least one company in France still producing Jasmine and Tuberose by the enfluerage process but it is very expensive as compared with the solvent extrtaction technique. One can expect to pay $250-$300 per ounce for a true enfleurage product if they can locate it. It is distinctly different in olfactory characteristics from the Jasmin absolutes by solvent extraction Note on Solvent Extraction Process Most of your are aware of the basics of solvent extraction of delicate flowers to produce what is known as a concrete. The concrete is then washed with alcohol, chilled, filtered and the alchohol vacummed off to produce the absolute.

I have written extensively on this and you can access that information in these two places-

nice images of solvent extraction process

Jasminum grandiflorum in the world today
It use to be that Grasse, France was the world leader in production of Jasmine absolutes and pommades. Today the centers of production have changed to countries like Egypt, India, Morocco and South Africa. Still some small amount is produced in Grasse of very high quality(and cost) All the above mentioned countries also produce beautiful Jasmin grandiflorum concretes and in some cases absolutes. Several old companies in and around Grasse still practice the high art and craft of absolute production and do their work by procuring concretes from India, Egypt, etc to which they have close links having, in many cases, supporting overseas production of these precious products. As with each one of these newsletters, there are volumes more that can be said but I think the real idea is to inspire each one of your to go deeper into the subject from your own particular angle of interest and expertise.

To say hello, one generally says: sabah il khair(good morning), one replies either sabah il khair or sabah il nour(morning of light) To close friends one may reply, sabah il-fil wal yasmin(the morning of Arabian jasmine and the jasmine) The sight of it makes one happy, its generous odor cheers, delights, communicates good spirits and hope: "smell the scent of jasmin and forget your troubles".(shil il ham) is what is said to someone who is anxious
The White Robe of Beirut-
Aida Kanafani-Zahar