Non-alcoholic distillates

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Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby bakerst » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:40 pm

I hope this is the right place to post this.

I’m looking for advice on how to make non-alcoholic botanical extracts. I’ve tried using water to make hydrosols, but this produces a very weak flavor. I can tolerate some residual alcohol in the final product and so I could use alcohol, or a mix of alcohol and water in the maceration/distillation. But then I would still need to remove this alcohol whilst also retaining some strength of flavor.

Does anyone have experience of this or suggestions on how to remove the alcohol whilst retaining a strong flavor?

Are there alternatives to using alcohol – someone I spoke to a few weeks ago suggested vinegar could be a good carrier for flavor/aroma, but I’m not sure how viable this is.

Many thanks,
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Re: Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby zapata » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:51 pm

Given how steam distillation works I can't imagine how anything would work much better than water. It's not like you need an appropriate solvent where acidity or polarity matter. I thought it was more like the bulk liquid just acts as a medium to transfer the energy and a bit of a physical carrier. Most essential oils actually don't mix with the water they are distilled with which kinda proves that point.

What exactly are you trying to make? And are you using "hydrosol" in the same sense I know it, as the mildly scented water layer leftover after an essential oil has been phase separated? That might be your problem, most hydrosols are weak. Is there a reason you can't just use the actual essential oil if you want something strongly flavored/scented?
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Re: Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby MDH » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:40 pm

Not sure why your hydrosol is weak tasting. If your material is abundant in volatiles they will make it into the hydrosol no matter what. Do you leave it sitting out after you distill it or do you cool it down and bottle it asap? You could just be leaving the warm liquid out and losing the good stuff to the air.

I make one out of pine, another from rosemary and another out of lavender every single year - I make diffusers out of them and gift them out to friends. I've never had one that was "weak". If anything they tasted so intensely they were almost unpalatable.
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Re: Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby Forest Beekeeper » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:10 am

bakerst wrote:... Are there alternatives to using alcohol – someone I spoke to a few weeks ago suggested vinegar could be a good carrier for flavor/aroma, but I’m not sure how viable this is.


Vinegar is an acid. I would be concerned that as an acid it may break down some of the oils you would be trying to isolate.

I have tried distilling an oil from oregano and from mint, the best I seem to be able to produce is a weak hydrosol.
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Re: Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby Alchemist75 » Fri May 25, 2018 8:16 am

Are you distilling the botanicals by putting them directly in your boiler or are you using a gin basket/thumper? Direct boiling can seriously affect the strength of the final product. If I put mint in my boiler the flavor and aroma come over much weaker than if I put the mint in my thumper and use indirect heat.
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Re: Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby Forest Beekeeper » Fri May 25, 2018 3:51 pm

One time I loaded the gin basket with many pounds of dry botanical then I ran a batch of white liquor through, I was not much impressed with the gin basket.

On other occasions I have soaked botanical in 180 proof liquor for a week, then macerated it through a blender and cold pressed the liquid out. This gave a far better result.
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Re: Non-alcoholic distillates

Postby Alchemist75 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:34 pm

Which botanicals are you using? Dry or fresh? Some don't yield much oil upon distillation and some yield no oil at all.
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