Better than fresh – or as good as the best of fresh at the best time of the year: it takes five commitments to make this possible.
1. Traceability and transparency
This plant you’re eating, do you know where it grew and who tended it? With us, each plant has an appointed place and grower. Mint, for example, is grown at Pont-Saint-Esprit by Alain Pailhon. This website provides a detailed fact sheet for each plant, retracing its course, with the name and picture of its grower and recipes by chefs who have chosen to sponsor it.
2. Agricultural engineer’s expertise
English mint Mentha piperita Mitcham. Handpicked !
Mint – OK, but what kind of mint? That’s what Laurent Dreyfus-Schmidt, the agricultural engineer who founded Baume des Anges, would ask you. For each essence, Laurent selects the variety with the finest aromatic notes, even if it only has a very small yield. For mint, he chose an English variety, Mentha piperita Mitcham.
3. Farmer-growers’ experience
Alain Pailhon with Laurent.
On what type of soil was our mint grown? With what methods? We coordinate a network of passionate farmers and growers. Our partners all comply with environmental and health standards and have organic or GlobalGap certification.
Their agriculture is based on their knowledge of their terroir, enabling them to use the most suitable agricultural techniques, traditional or innovative. In the Pailhon family, this is the fourth generation of peppermint growers. Alain Pailhon is a pioneer of integrated pest management and his mint is GlobalGap certified.
We could also talk about Jean-Claude Geneston, who cultivates Italian flat-leaf parsley in the Drôme, and world citrus expert Michel Bachès, who notably grows certified organic Tahitian lime at the foot of pic du Canigou.
Finally, some plants, like thyme and Bourbon geranium, are cultivated by Laurent Dreyfus-Schmidt in the Drôme. His farm is entirely AB certified (organic farming).
4. The best time
Checking the maturity of Lavandin Super before harvest.
Spraying Blissful Plant Extract is like being back at the time of the year when flavours explode. It’s like a journey in time, from the peppermint of early July to the basil harvest in the heart of summer… For lavender, we wait until the last bees have left. When their constant buzzing stops, the time has come. We always harvest right at the moment when the plant develops its best aroma. And for plants that are picked several times a year (mint, parsley, basil, etc.), we only use the best crop for our Blissful Plant Extracts.
The timing for extraction also counts. For peppermint and basil, we start extracting within the hour following the harvest. For lavender, we start after one to two days of spreading out to dry, which makes for a more subtle aroma. Exotic lemon verbena requires a long drying period in the shade. At Baume des Anges, we examine the specific features of each plant so as to process them in the most appropriate way.
Basil prepared for extraction.
Last but not least: what happens exactly between when the plant is harvested and when it gets to your table? For Baume des Anges, tending the plant also means preserving the subtlety of all its flavours. We have perfected our own ‘green’ extraction process. It is patented and certified AB. Our technique uses only dry steam (without any suspended water droplets) at a cold temperature (less than 75°C) as well as vacuum pumps. This innovative process helps prevent three degradations suffered by plants transformed into essential oils: thermolysis, hydrolysis and oxidation. That is why we at Baume des Anges prefer to use the word essences — essences that we capture, with all their aromas and nothing but their aromas.
This process has one great quality: when it comes to putting the aroma of fresh plants into bottles, there is nothing like it. And one slight drawback, its low yield. This means it takes a lot of plants to produce a few drops of essence – up to 1.4 kg of basil for a 15 ml bottle! This is a conscious choice. Our priority is to preserve all the flavour of the plant, right up to your plate.
See also “What is the difference with essential oils?”