Hydrolate (hydrosol) can be made quite easily in an air still. The air still can be used to distill your herbs (e.g. water or alcohol). To make hydrolate, you use a technique called steam distillation. So it is important that if you are going to make hydrolate the products you are going to use are well dry! Hydrolate (hydrosol) this is how you can distill herbs
Hydrolate what is it anyway?
Short by the bend it is a water to which flavors are added of leaves, roots, flowers, fruits or seeds. You can make almost anything hydrolate, whether you really want to is another question.
I use fresh herbs from the garden to disstite herbs that are also organic. You can also buy herbs in the store or use dried herbs. To make a hydrolate you need quite a lot of herbs. I use about 250 grams of fresh herbs to make a liter of hydrolate.
So start with the herbs. They should look neat preferably fresh and dry. If there are flowers in the herbs then that is only better for the taste! If you do not have enough herbs of a kind, you can easily combine different herbs.
What do you need to make hydrolate?
- An air still (there are other techniques too but this one works best for me)
- A pair of stainless steel rings
- A stainless steel steam basket
- A measuring cup of one litre
- Herbs to your liking
How to make Hydrolate (hydrosol) so you can distill herbs
Grab the air still and place on the bottom the stainless steel rings. Pour 1.5 liters of hot water into the air still. Fill the steam basket with the fresh dry herbs and place the basket on the rings. If it is good, the dry herbs do not come into contact with the water!
Then turn the air still on and under the spot where the hydrolate comes out a measuring cup. Allow the hydrolate to run until the measuring cup is full. Turn off the air still and allow the appliance to cool. Then fill the hydrolate in a weckpot or pet bottle. Stick a sticker on it with the date of production and the type of hydrolate that is in it. Hydrolate is kept in the fridge and if you handle it a bit neatly then it is in the fridge for at least a year’s shelf life.
If a cloud forms in your hydrolate at a given moment, this is probably a fungus. If you sift the hydrolate and then heat it, the fungus is dead and you can use the hydrolate again. Do not worry if a thin layer of oil floats on the hydrolate over time. This is essential oil, and you can just leave it in it.
I also made a video of this process so you can see how I do it.
Online you can find many different providers for buying hydrolates. But why would you do that? Lavender hydrolate or herb distilling can easily be made yourself, as you can read above. And another advantage: you know what’s in it!
What do you do with hydrolate?
I use it mainly in the kitchen. Exactly what you could do with it depends on the type of hydrolate you’ve created. For example, did you make a mint hydrolate? Then you could process this in chocolate or in a typical Indian dish raita. I use hydrolate mainly for fermentation processes. For example, you could add some thyme hydrolate to your pickled lemons. Or make a kombucha of beet juice with rosemary hydrolate, also very tasty. A few drops of misadultic herbs (hydrolate) in soups, sauces or dressings also works wonders. Keep in mind that hydrolate has a strong taste and you don’t need much of it.
Have fun experimenting!