Enfleurage and Défleurage

(b) Enfleurage and Défleurage.


Every enfleurage building is equipped with thousands of so-called chassis, which serve as vehicles for holding the fat corps during the process. A chassis consists of a rectangular wooden frame 2 in. high, about 20 in. long and about 16 in. wide. The frame holds a glass plate upon both sides of which the fat corps is applied with a spatula at the beginning of the enfleurage process. When piled one above the other the chassis form airtight compartments with a layer of fat on the upper and lower side of each glass plate.
Every morning during the harvest the freshly picked flowers arrive, and having first been cleaned of impurities, such as leaves and stalks, are then strewn by hand on top of the fat layer of each glass plate. Blossoms wet from dew or rain must never be employed, as any trace of moisture would turn the corps rancid. 
PLATE 7. Enfleurage process. (Spreading of jasmine; flowers on top of the fat layer on the glass plates of the chassis.)

 PLATE 7. Enfleurage process. (Spreading of jasmine; flowers on top of the fat layer on
the glass plates of the chassis.)
The chassis are then piled up and left in the cellars for 24 hr. or longer, depending upon the type of flowers. The latter rest in direct contact with one fat layer (the lower one), which acts as a direct solvent, whereas the other fat layer (beneath the glass plate of the chassis above) absorbs only the volatile perfume given off by the flowers.
After 24 hr. the flowers have emitted most of their oil and start to wither, developing an objectionable odor. They must then be removed from the corps, which process, despite all efforts to introduce labor-saving devices, is still done by hand. The careful removal of the flowers (défleurage) is almost more important than charging the corps on the chassis with fresh flowers (enfleurage) and, therefore, the women doing this work must be experienced and skilled. Most of the exhausted flowers will fall from the fat layer on the chassis glass plate when the chassis is struck lightly against the working table, but since it is necessary to remove every single flower and every particle of the flowers, the women use tweezers for this delicate operation. Immediately following défleurage, that is, every 24 hr., the chassis are recharged with fresh flowers. For this purpose the chassis are turned over and the fat layer, which in the previous operation formed the top (ceiling) of the small chamber, is now directly charged with flowers. In the case of jasmine, the entire enfleurage process lasts about 70 days; daily the exhausted flowers are removed and the chassis recharged with fresh ones.
During the height of the harvest large quantities of flowers arrive every morning, which necessitates certain modifications in the process. Complications result from the fact that at the beginning and at the end of the harvest the quantities of flowers are very limited and, therefore, it is practically impossible to charge the chassis each day of the flower harvest with the same amount of flowers.
At the beginning of, and several times during, the harvest, the fat on the chassis is scratched over with metal combs and tiny furrows are drawn in order to change and increase the surface of absorption.
At the end of the harvest the fat is relatively saturated with flower oil and possesses their typical fragrance. The perfumed fat must then be removed from the glass plates between the chassis. For this purpose it is scraped off with a spatula and then carefully melted and bulked in closed containers. The final product is called pomade (pomade de jasmin, pomade de tubereuse, pomade de violet, etc.), the most highly saturated pomade being Pomade No. 36, because the corps on the chassis has been treated with fresh flowers 36 times during the whole process of enfleurage. At the beginning of the harvest every chassis is charged with about 360 g. of fat corps on each side of the glass plate, in other words, with 720 g. per chassis. Every kilo gram of fat corps should be in contact with about 2.5 kg. (preferably with 3.0 kg.) of jasmine flowers for the entire period of enfleurage, which lasts from 8 to 10 weeks. The quantities differ somewhat in the case of other flowers. 
Défleurage process. (Removal of jasmine flowers from the chassis.)

 PLATE 8. Défleurage process. (Removal of jasmine flowers from the chassis.)
At the end of the enfleurage, the fat corps has lost about 10 per cent of its weight because of various manipulations. In other words, the total yield of the fragrant Pomade No. 36 is about 10 per cent less than the fat corps originally applied to the chassis. Most of this loss is caused by fat adhering to the exhausted flowers when they are removed (défleurage) every 24 hr.

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