Pear Essence
THE BIRTH OF A NEW OIL

by Jeanne Rose (2003)

       Yes, it is really true, there is an essential oil from Pears.  That's right!  This fruit does produce an essential oil.  However, it takes 20 tons of pears to produce about 3 ounces of essential oil.  Here is the story of finding this precious substance.

          Recently, an aromatherapy conference was held near my hometown of San Francisco.  I had a house full of friends visiting that had all decided to go to the Conference but I on the other hand had not been invited to speak nor had I decided to pay to attend.  So on the Saturday of the conference I planned to go to Alameda island and check out St. George's Spirits' eau de vie distillery there and taste some of their new products.  Ah! from such small decisions do great events happen.

          At St. George's Spirits I met Lance Winters the distiller and began to discuss distillation.  He remembered me from an incident several years ago, when the company allowed one of their distillers to distill the high azulene Blue Artemis (Artemisia arborescens) in their smallest eau de vie still.  The Blue Artemis left behind enough heavy blue particles of azulene to cause everything that came through it to turn blue for days after our experimental distillation. [ummm! what a way to turn an alcoholic drink blue without synthetic colors].  Lance and I laughed about the incident and he began to talk about a Pear Essence that he had collected.  Fruit does not produce an essential oil, that I knew, but a Pear essence?  What was he talking about? He said that he used the Pear essence to add to personal body care products, it smelled really good and he was interested in essential oils and perfumery.  We spoke about absolutes and concrètes and that most  expensive perfumes were made from these fragrant items and synthetics rather than true essential oils. He informed me that he wanted to learn as much as he could about perfume, essential oils and now these absolutes.  As we continued our conversation, he suddenly left the room with this statement, "I have something for you."

          Lance returned with a test tube full of what he called Pear Essence. A years supply of it. As he said, probably $12,000.00 worth and gave it to me. I sat there at the tasting table with a friend and removed the cork. Pear hit me in the nose. Yum!  Pear odor — most powerful and complete. Pear, very ripe and beautifully golden fragrant —  Pear in all its powerful perfect fruity spectacular and edible sensory essence. The kind of Pear scent that when you smell it in a real Pear you know that the Pear is slightly over-the-hill, that is, over-ripe, smellable but with mushy flesh, not eatable. Pear, pear, smelly sweet and ripe Pear! "The odor impact is WOW!" as Arthur Tucker later wrote. As I smelled the Pear I thought, "the sense of smell is the gift that god gave us as humans to always remind us that there is a  heaven". Arthur Tucker also said, with the objectivity of his scientific experience, "from the richness of this "essence" and the absence of anything not found in nature, I doubt that this is synthetic." Such high praise from an academician.

          Lance gave this description of Pear eau de vie and the production of the essence.  About 20 tons of ripe Bartlett Pears are used.  Yeast is added and the Pears are allowed to ferment for about 14 days. The yeast eats the sugar of the Pear and turns it into alcohol. The entire mass is put into the copper stills. The alcohol distills out at about 60-65%.  This needs to be diluted down to about 40% to make a potable beverage called the Pear  eau de vie.  It is diluted with water that has been subjected to reverse osmosis.  However, when you add the water the eau de vie gets cloudy. So it is chilled to 32° and allowed to settle down for a number of hours.  This facilitates the filtering process to get rid of the cloudiness.  At this point, the clear, golden Pear essence floats to the top and is skimmed off as a fragrant golden fluid and kept.  The Pear eau de vie is left behind. 

          I brought the Pear home with me and shared the scent with all of my house guests.  What a wonderful sight. Seven normally calm aromatherapists all agog and aghast and doubting about what they were smelling.  The only persons who got the scent correctly the first time were bartenders, waitresses and one lone non-drinking-used-to-be-a-wine-salesman guy.  None of the aromatherapy experts could identify the scent. Aromatherapy people are so used to the fact that fruit does not produce an essential oil that even with Pear scent filling their nose and filling their palate they couldn't identify the scent. The Pear is so loud and rambunctious that it fills the palate until you also taste Pear.  It is persistent and will last in your nose and mouth and on your hands for hours.

          I did some very simple experiments with the Pear. Took 5 drops and added 5 drops of water.  The Pear essence floated on the water.  Next I did the same with 95% alcohol and the Pear dissolved in the alcohol. Aha! It floats on water and dissolves in alcohol keeping a very strong scent.

          The next step was to have the Pear essence analyzed by an expert and so  a note to Art Tucker with a query "are you interested in seeing this 'Pear essence' ?" was sent. This was followed by a note from him on November 15, ""I did a quick check of my reprint file and found nothing on "pear essence."... Hmmm! There seems to be a lacuna of information out there.  You've piqued my interest...yes, I would like to see the "pear essence"." Two mls. were immediately sent.

Pear Essence Analysis - 11/21/00
GC/MS Analysis
constituent percentage

ethanol 00.88
butyl acetate 00.21
hexanal 00.04
isoamyl acetate <0.01
isoamyl alcohol 00.38
ethyl hexanoate 00.08
hexyl acetate 00.69
methyl octanoate 00.01
ethyl caprylate (octanoate) 02.38
ethyl (E)-2-octanoate 00.02
methyl undecanoate 00.01
methyl undec-1-enoate 00.21
ethyl caprate (decanoate) 08.01
(E)-ethyl 4-decenoate 02.71
2'-methyl acetophenone 00.16
(Z,E)-alpha-farnesene 00.42
(E,Z)-alpha-farnesene 04.36
ethyl (E)-2-decenoate 20.54
methyl (E,Z)-2,4-decadienoate 10.33
ethyl (E,Z)-2,4-decadienoate 31.82
ethyl myristate 00.67
ethyl palmitate 00.83
decanoic acid 00.58
methyl 9-octadecenoate 00.43
dodecanoic acid 00.26
ethyl linoleate 00.88
ethyl linolenate 00.08

78.93 % esters  87.00%

analyzed by Arthur Tucker, Research Professor, Delaware State University. November 21, 2000 from St. George's Spirits, _Bartlett_Pear eau de vie.

       But it was about 82.47% esters with 90.00% of the compounds identified at this time. [12/07/00]

          So now we have most of the Pear essence left for smelling purpose and an academic mystery which will be further explored.

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ANOTHER STORY
THE STORY OF EAU DE VIE

Definitions:
Absolute and concrètes and resinoids are described as follows in The World of Perfume by Fabienne Pavia, 1995. Solvent extraction takes place in stainless steel vats which are filled with perforated trays covered with plant material stacked one on the other so that the plant material is not crushed. The solvent must be allowed to circulate freely. The solvent is introduced, this strips the plants of their fragrance (sort of like dry-cleaning clothes of their scent). Once the solvent is saturated with fragrance, the solvent is decanted to remove excess moisture and then the material is transferred to a vacuum still where it is partially distilled. It is evaporated, retrieved and then recycled in various processes, leaving a paste-like mixture, composed of fragrant molecules, waxes and pigments, at the bottom of the machine. This mixture of such things as seeds, roots, mosses, balsams, gums or resins is called a resinoid; it is called a concrète `when it is obtained from flowers. Resinoids are used as is. Concrètes are further processed and refined. Floral concrètes are thick and viscous and contain plant waxes and paraffins that are insoluble in alcohol. The waxes are filtered out, and the concrète is washed in alcohol repeatedly to dissolve the fragrant molecules. It is chilled, the waxes are frozen because they congeal at low temperatures. The mixture is filtered again to remove all the wax particles. Finally, the mixture undergoes low pressure distillation and evaporation of the alcohol yields the absolute essence, called simply the absolute.

Arthur O. Tucker is a Research Professor at Delaware State University in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He has an intense interest and knowledge in all things aromatic. He has published widely on many herbs and essential oils, is an acknowledged authority of the Lavenders and is on the editorial board of Economic Botany, Journal of Essential Oil Research, and Herbs for Health, as well as an advisor for many other journals and groups. Dr. Tucker has just completed a new book, called The Big Book of Herbs, one of the top three herb books selling on Amazon. The Big Book of Herbs references every statement with a scientific paper in a readable format.

Distillation is the process of boiling a substance in a closed system. A plant material is heated over or in water until the scent of the plant bursts from the cells, is vaporized as a gas, and then condensed again into fluid by submerging the pipe full of vapors in cold water. This is condensation. Plants are distilled for their essential oil and hydrosol.

Dr. Tucker sent me a message regarding distillation. “Gildemeister (1913) has a wonderful history of distillation but no definition per se, but he does say: "Owing to the practice of using alcohol in the preparation of many of these aromatic waters (hydrosols), the oil must frequently have remained in solution wholly or in part. Thus, e.g., the plants or plant products to be distilled were moistened with wine or aqua vitae before distillation. Moreover, both alcohol and volatile oil were lost, in part at least, by submitting the plant products to a process known as circulation, a preliminary operation consisting of more or less prolonged digestion...In some instance’s recourse was again taken to the process of fermentation before distillation which was in vogue during the 15th and 16th centuries. This was done e.g., with Juniper berries, Wormwood, Sage and other herbs, honey and yeast occasionally being added. The old practice of previously moistening the plant material with alcohol was also resorted to. In this manner a larger yield of oil was obtained but it would seem that the dilution of the oil with alcohol was not recognized." Haagen-Smit in Guenther (1948) says: "In early work, therefore, we find the term "essential oil”, or "ethereal oil" defined as the volatile oil obtained by the steam distillation of plants. With such a definition, it is clearly intended to make a distinction between the fatty oils and the oils which are easily volatile. Their volatility and plant origin are the characteristic properties of these oils, and it is for this reason more satisfactory to include in our definition volatile plant oils obtained by other means than by direct steam distillation." Arctander (1960) says "An essential oil is a volatile material, derived by a physical process from odorous plant material of a single botanical form and species with which it agrees in name and color.” ” .... thus, because distillation was involved in the preparation of the "pear essence" it could conceivably be called an essential oil according to the above. ___private communication from Arthur O. Tucker.

Fermented fruits or wine are distilled for the alcohol that is produced. This is a closed system and the boiling produces vapors that are captured and condensed into a new liquid within the swan's neck and the condenser called the eau de vie or grape spirits (*see below). Grape wine eau de vie that is diluted down to 40% and then aged in oak is called cognac or brandy. In the case of the fermented fruit or wine, this vapor is very high in alcohol, which is collected, reboiled again, collected at about 60-65% alcohol.

Eau de vie is an aromatic alcohol distillate of fruit such as grape, pear or apple or other fruit. Around the world there are some really expert eau de vie distillers. Eau de vie, water of life, the burning water, is an ancient substance, a high alcoholic beverage that was added to plain water to purify it, that was drunk on its own, that was distilled by ancient cultures, that was more a potent medicinal potion than a leisure drink. It is a substance written about by the ancient alchemists; a classic spirit honored by all. In The Newe Iewell of Health by Conrad Gesner, and dated 1576, is "the fourth Booke of Dy∫tillations, conteyning many ∫ingular ∫ecrete Remedies" The first chapter is about "Of the distilling of Aqua vitae, or as some name it, burning water, and of the properties of the same."

It goes on to say... "that the water, which is distilled out of wine, is named by some the water of life, in that it recovers and maintains life, yes and slays old age. But this may rightly be named the water of death, if it shall not be rightly and Artly prepared."

In the book Classic Spirits of the World, a Comprehensive Guide by Gordon Brown, dated 1996, it is explained that the Arabs studied distillation and took their techniques with them on military campaigns. They distilled grapes in Sicily to make lamp-fuel and as a disinfectant for wounds. The knowledge of distillation spread. The book defines eau de vie as grape spirits. First an organic substance has yeast added and it ferments and turns to alcohol which is collected by distillation.

The making of eau de vie is thus simple. It is both Art and Craft with a good bit of Science added. Ripe grapes or fruit are collected, and yeast is added. As the fermentation process proceeds, the yeast eats up the sugars and produces alcohol. When the alcohol is boiled such as in an enclosed copper pot, a still, the alcohol vaporizes. This vapor is collected and condensed, and the alcohol is thus concentrated. When wine which is 8% alcohol is distilled, it is subjected to the heat and boiling in the still, it produces alcohol at 20%; if it is boiled or distilled a second time the alcohol increases in volume and this vapor that is collected, its alcohol strength increases to about 60% by volume. Only the best part of the distillate is collected, that is what comes off during the middle part of the distillation process and you thus you have eau de vie or grape spirits (*see above). If your organic substance is a fruit such as Pear, that is fermented and then distilled, the final product is then Pear eau de vie.

Vapour is the word used in the distillation industry to mean the volatile matter or the gaseous form of the distillate before it cools.

Vapor is the smoke, fog, mist or steam that is the suspended matter or is floating in the air and disrupts the airs transparency.

Bibliography

1. Winters, Lance • St. George's Spirits distiller from a private communication. Nov. 2000
2. Brown, Gordon. Classic Spirits of the World • A Comprehensive Guide. Abbeville Press of London and New York. 1996.
3. Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Frog. Ltd. of Berkeley, CA. 1999.
4. Pavia, Fabienne. The World of Perfume. Knickerbocker Press, New York. 1995
5. Gesner, Conrad. The Newe Iewell of Health. London. 1576 [from the Da Capo Press edition, 1971.
6. Tucker, Arthur O. Journal of Essential Oil Research. to be published. 2001.

Pear Essence Analysis - 11/21/00
GC/MS Analysis
constituent percentage

ethanol 00.88
butyl acetate 00.21
hexanal 00.04
isoamyl acetate <0.01
isoamyl alcohol 00.38
ethyl hexanoate 00.08
hexyl acetate 00.69
methyl octanoate 00.01
ethyl caprylate (octanoate) 02.38
ethyl (E)-2-octanoate 00.02
methyl undecanoate 00.01
methyl undec-1-enoate 00.21
ethyl caprate (decanoate) 08.01
(E)-ethyl 4-decenoate 02.71
2'-methyl acetophenone 00.16
(Z,E)-alpha-farnesene 00.42
(E,Z)-alpha-farnesene 04.36
ethyl (E)-2decenoate 20.54
methyl (E,Z)-2,4-decadienoate 10.33
ethyl (E,Z)-2,4-decadienoate 31.82
ethyl (E,E)-2,4-decadienoate 03.54
ethyl myristate 00.67
ethyl palmitate 00.83
decanoic acid 00.58
methyl 9-ocatadecenoate 00.43
dodecanoic acid 00.26
ethyl linoleate 00.88
ethyl linoleate 00.08
  90.00%

82.47 % esters (as of 12/11/00)
analyzed by Arthur Tucker, Research Professor, Delaware State University. November 21, 2000 from St. George's Spirits, Bartlett Pear eau de vie.


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AUTHOR BIO: Jeanne Rose is the President Emeritus of Naha, current Executive Director of the Aromatic Plant Project which encourages the production and use of organically grown plants for essential oil and hydrosol, founder of the www.JeanneRose.net which contains dozens of articles on the use of essential oils and hydrosols and is the education arm of the APP. She has written over 20 books on herbs, aromatherapy and distillation including a complete Herbal Studies Course and Aromatherapy Studies Course. Visit her site for Seminars and educational materials.

Disclaimer: This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and some personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies - Jeanne Rose

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