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Herbal Processing Terms and Definitions
The Gourmet Cooking Place

Herbal Processing
Terms and Definitions

My Spice Blends has developed this glossary of terms for your convenience to help you better understand the technical terms used when researching herbal suppliments, oils, extracts, and processed herbs on our website. Select the term from the list or scroll the page to find a definition.

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Alcohol Extract
Concentrated herbal tinctures. Alcohol is used as a solvent to extract herbal compounds.

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Absolute
A solvent extract of fragrant materials from botanicals, producing an alcohol-soluble liquid or semi-liquid oil. Common solvents include, among others, alcohol & hexane, which are then removed.

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Anhydrous
Produced without water, a combination of extraction of raw material and molecular-distillation.

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Attar (otto)
Used to describe the steam distillation of rose petals "Rose Otto". Also an Indian term for the material obtained from the co-distillation of Rose & Sandalwood.

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Balsam
A water insoluble, semi-solid or viscous, resinous exudate of trees and bushes similar to gum resins.

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Bergaptene Free
Top & bottom note terpenes, "bergapteres" in Bergamot are removed through re-distillation to prevent UV skin sensitivity caused by bergaptenes applied to the skin & exposed to the sun.

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Bleached
Oil that has been filtered with acidified clays, removing color pigments & some aromatic substances.

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Cold Pressed, cp
A pressing process of extraction for citrus & fixed oils with minimized heat & deterioration, usually less than 120 degree Fahrenheit.

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Concrete
A solvent extraction, typically hexane, of a botanical, which yields, after removal of the solvent by vacuum distillation, a semi-solid wax.

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CO2 Extraction
Extraction method using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a solvent. There are two basic CO2 extractions. Low-pressure cold extraction involves chilling CO2 to between 35-55 degrees F and pumping it through the plant material at between 800-1,500 psi. Supercritical Fluid (SCO2) extraction involves heating the CO2 to above 87F an pumping it above 1,100 psi. Usually this work is done between 6,000-10,000 psi. Supercritical Fluid CO2 can best be described as a dense fog whereas the first method described uses the CO2 in a dense liquid state. CO2 is the most desired of solvents, as it leaves no toxic residues behind. Low-pressure CO2 extraction is often the best method for obtaining high quality extracts.

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Deodorized
Refers to the process of removing unwanted fragrance or flavor materials from a botanical product.

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Distillate Water
Otherwise known as floral water or hydrosol, the by-product of steam-distillation.

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Distillation
A heat-dependent process for separation and purification of a liquid mixture based on differences in vapor pressure of components of the mixture. The process involves vaporization of the more volatile components and then condensation of the vapor back to a liquid.

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Expeller Pressed
Produced by machine pressing, normally around 140 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Essence Oil
An oil collected in the water distillate during the production and concentration of fruit juices. Example: orange oilphase essence, lemon oilphase essence, etc.

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Essential Oil
Volatile oils, typically fragrant, which are extracted from botanicals using steam distillation. Essential oils are normally liquid, but in some cases, such as Anise, may be solid, depending on temperature. For commercial purposes expressed oils such as orange are identified as essential oils, while they technically are not.

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Expression
Pressing of the peels of citrus fruits to obtain essential oils & non-volatile materials.

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Extraction
A process of removing botanical components from a raw material through the uses of distillation and/or solvents. The solvent portion containing the extracted material is filtered and the solvent removed. The extract will contain non-volatile as well as volatile components. Oleoresins, resinoids, concretes, and absolutes are all produced by extraction.

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Exudate
Non-cellular, natural raw material that is secreted by plants, either spontaneously or after wounding. Examples: Balsam Peru, Balsam Copalba, etc.

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FDA Approved
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States.

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FCC
Food Chemicals Codex, the industry-standard listing of food-grade ingredients; indicates materials safe for use in food and cosmetics.

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Fixative
A material that slows down the rate of evaporation of the more volatile components in perfume composition and cosmetics.

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Fixed Oils
Non-volatile oils derived from plant materials, commonly referred to as Vegetable Oils.

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Folded Oil
A product derived by concentrating the flavor constituents of an essential oil by re-distillation and/or processing. Example: Orange Oil 5 fold used in food flavoring.

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Fractional distillation
In the fractional steam distillation process, the essential oil is collected in batches over the distillation period during given time intervals. Ylang Ylang is a material in which the initionial oil yield taken initially and is referred to as Ylang Ylang 1stl, thereafter the 2nd, and 3rd. A blend of all the batches is referred to as Ylang Ylang Complete.

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Gum
Water soluble exudate consisting mainly of polysaccharides, used principally as a thicken and a spray-dried carrier in the manufacture of water soluble fragrance & flavor compounds such as gum arabic.

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Gum Resin Absolute
Oil soluble, purified exudate consisting mostly of resinous constituents, gums and small amounts of volatile components. Examples are myrrh, galbanum, and opoponax.

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Hydrosol
Otherwise known as floral water or distillate water, the by-product of steam distillation.

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Hydrospice
Water dispersible form of an oleoresin.

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Isolate
Separation of an aroma chemical from an essential oil via distillation (mechanically) or hydrolysis (chemically), or by other partitioning methods. Example, eugenol from clove leaf oil.

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Kaolin
Clay siding the absorption of oil secreted by the skin. No toxicity on record when used externally.

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Natural
Contains only natural ingredients.

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Natural and Artificial
Contains both natural and artificial ingredients.

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Nature Identical
A component, natural or artificial, which has chemical structure identical to that found in nature.

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Oleoresin
Extraction, usually of natural spice or flavoring materials, using selected solvents to remove the vital components. An oleoresin will contain the essential oil plus other important non-volatile components that characterize the flavor, color, and other aspects of the starting raw material.

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Reco
Reconstituted from natural or synthetic materials.

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Rectified
Indicates a material was re-processed to further "clean", purify or standardize the material.

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Rectification
A second distillation of an essential oil to remove color, resinous matter and perhaps unwanted top and bottom notes.

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Refined
A material that has been processed to remove impurities from the natural crude botanical.

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SHU
Scoville Heat Unit, unit of measure of the degree of heat of capsicum. Named after Mr. Scoville.

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Solvent Extraction
A process of treating a natural raw material that may be too delicate to be processed with heat, with an organic solvent. The solvent portion containing the extracted material is filtered and the solvent removed. The extract will contain non-volatile as well as volatile components. Oleoresins, resinoids, concretes, and absolutes are all produced by extraction.

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Terpeneless
Complete or partial-removal of monoterpenic or hydrocarbons by distillation of an essential oil to: a) Improve solubility in diluted alcohol or food grade solvents. b) Increase stability of the oil and prevent the appearance of rancid notes.

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Tincture
An alcoholic extraction with the solvent left in as a dilutant.

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Unrefined
The crude, natural, or virgin first pressing of a botanical.

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Water Miscible / Dispersible
Can be uniformly mixed with water.

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Water Soluble
Can be dissolved in water.

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Wax
A low-melting organic mixture or compound of high molecular weight, solid at room temperature and generally similar in composition to fats and oils except that it contains no glycerides.

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Wheat Germ Oil
Natural oil obtained from the embryo of the wheat kernel separated in milling. Natural source of vitamin E, A and D.

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Winterized
Cold-filtered process removing waxes & stearines, which cause cloudiness when temperatures drop.

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Wonf
An essential oil or flavor "with other natural flavors" added to enhance specific notes.

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