I just finished my first fresh distillation! The difference between fresh and dried distillations is like night and day. Clary Sage was the first plant ready in the herb garden. It does not flower until the 2nd year, so I have been waiting for a very long time. The distillation turned out great, but there were definitely some teaching moments. Clary Sage is a highly aromatic plant, historically used in perfuming, love potions, added to cordials or special liquors, and used as a hops substitute in specialty beers.
I learned the hard way to chop this plant outdoors, rather than in my kitchen. The entire first floor of our home was filled with a cloying, sweet, balsamic scent. It was a study of too much-ness! Once I stuffed the biomass sphere with the plant material, the scent became very mild, and almost unnoticeable.
Clary Sage has a beautiful presence in the herb garden. My plants are 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. I have heard some plants reach heights of 6 feet! The flowers first appear as pinkish gray pine cones hanging between the leaves. Some of the leaves are as big as your hand, and they are aromatic as well.
The essential oil and the hydrosol are absolutely wonderful! The white area in the glass tube above is the essential oil, about 1/3 oz. It is lighter than water, so it floats at the top. It is actually a crystal clear oil, but the condenser is cold, so it appears more solid than it will be at room temperature later. I have two or three more distillations of Clary Sage coming up, and in the end, I should have a little more than an ounce of essential oil and about 5 pints of hydrosol, or flower water.
Hydrosols are the sweetly aromatic echos of essential plant oil, the life force of the plant. They can be used instead of plain, distilled water in soaps, creams and lotions, to add scent and healing qualities to the product. Hydrosol made with healing plants can be used as a wound wash, a healing tub tea, to rinse hair, to hydrate skin, and so much more. I cannot wait to learn more about it and use it in every way possible.