Published on October 13, 2022 at 3:36 p.m.
More than a simple culinary ingredient to flavor our pastries and other sweets, orange blossom – derived from the bitter orange tree, a fruit tree also called sour orange that flourishes around the Mediterranean in particular – is also very popular in perfumery, and has been for centuries. To find out more, Charlotte Urbain, communication director of the Fragonard house, as well as Daniela Andrier, the nose behind the house’s Fleur D’oranger eau de toilette, tell us about this white flower. and the incomparable scent that melts into our juices, whether we talk autumn scentswinter, spring or summer.
The history of orange blossom perfume
The bitter orange, even before arriving in the Mediterranean region, would have Asian origins. And as far as France is concerned, this tree, exploited for its many riches (from its wood to its fruit, including its flower), is, according to Charlotte Urbain, “cultivated since the 16th century along the shores of Provence, and especially in the Grasse country. This region remained until the middle of the 20th century the main production center for orange blossom in Provence”, before it was mainly established in Tunisia, Morocco or Egypt for economic and climatic reasons. .
From flower to essence…
The pretty white flower of the bitter orange tree is harvested in spring. An intense period during which “several tens of tons arrive daily at the distillery to be processed”, tell us the Fragonard experts. “Dumped on the floor in huge whitewashed sheds, the flowers are distributed between the different devices according to the raw material that we want to obtain”. On one side, we find the stills, devices allowing the distillation of the flower and producing the essential oil of neroli (1 ton of flowers for 1 kilo). On the other hand, it is the solvent extraction process which makes it possible to obtain orange blossom absolute (1 tonne of flowers per 1 kg) as well as concrete, in other words the solid perfume (1 ton of flowers for 2kg).
It is also noted that the foliage of the sour orange tree makes it possible to obtain essential oil and absolute of bitter orange petit grain when the bark of its fruit leads to the production of essential oil of bitter orange zest. All these substances with different scents and interests are also used in perfumery.
The characteristics of an orange blossom perfume
Orange blossom represents the smell of fine weather, the one that transports us to the warm, green and flowery gardens of the Mediterranean. A delicate floral scent “which accompanies all ages of life: from the innocence of the child to the mature woman through the young girl, without forgetting the men of course”, specifies Daniela Andrier. With this fragrance, “we can totally talk about addiction. Its naturalness revitalizes us. Its freshness evokes a certain sensuality that thrills our senses. It is soothing, tender and reassuring”.
The composition of an orange blossom perfume
If the orange blossom can be enough on its own, we must not forget that the development of a fragrance results from a perfect balance at the limit of art. Whether this ingredient is at the center of the creation or not, it happily mixes with other accords. In L’eau de toilette Fleur d’Oranger by Fragonard, this top note rubs shoulders with bergamot, mandarin and jasmine before letting honey and musk act. In Belle de Grasse, it is placed as a heart note alongside lilac and mimosa. It is also found in many other cult creations in the world of perfumery such as Dior, Caron, Courrèges and Prada. We let you discover.