Exploring Blissful Plant Sprays with Baume Des Anges

Nearly a year ago, at a friend’s 40th birthday party, I had the chance to sample some amazing herbal extracts by a company called Baume Des Anges. My friend Matt (who works with the company’s founder in France) carefully emptied the contents of a small black bag onto the breakfast table, sharing tiny glass bottles of aromatic liquid.Baume des Anges

They came in all sorts of flavors and could be sprayed directly onto food for added herbal essence. Basil, celery, cilantro, and lavender were the ones I liked best, so Matt gave me a bottle of the cilantro to use at home in my kitchen. I could immediately understand the appeal of these perpetually fresh-tasting culinary sprays. How convenient to always have the full flavor of fresh-picked cilantro or lavender just sitting on the shelf! They solve two common problems that home cooks tend to have:

  1. Half-used fresh herbs going bad in the refrigerator
  2. Flavorless dried herbs that are devoid of all nutritional value (and sometimes even moldy!) taking up space in the pantry

As a home gardener who has lots of fresh herbs in the yard, I find it really difficult to grow cilantro and basil. They both bolt so quickly that I can barely use them before they’re gone. And dried basil and cilantro might as well be sawdust, as far as my taste buds are concerned, so these little bottles were pretty impressive.

Baume Des Anges

A Chance Trip to France

When the opportunity arose for me to go to Paris in June, I decided to make the most of it by extending my trip through the rest of the week and visiting the French countryside. My friend Matt, who is still living there, offered to organize a visit to the Baume Des Anges farm, where I’d spend the day with the founder, Laurent Dreyfus-Schmidt. The plan was for me to tour his beautiful property, learn about the plants and the extraction process, and enjoy the spectacular views of Provence. After using the cilantro in my cooking and loving how easy and convenient it was, I realized what an exciting opportunity it would be to learn more about these products and the process of making them.

Baumes Des Anges

Baume Des Anges Farm

Nestled in the countryside of Provence, overlooking the cave from which the company name is derived, the Baume Des Anges property is nothing short of breath-taking. The views at the edge of the property are spectacular, overlooking the Rhône and the many narrow bridges stretching across it. From the edge of the cliffs, farmland stretches as far as the eye can see, with patches of solid purple marking the iconic lavender farms for which the region is known.

Baumes Des AngesLaurent rebuilt his farm and lab at the base of an ancient water source, which trickles into his basement in the spring when the water is flowing from the mountains above. He’s set up a home lab where he blends his pure plant essences with organic sunflower oil and mineral water to make Blissful Plant Sprays. He is growing a number of culinary herbs, flowers, and trees on his farm, and gave me a tour of the property, which ended at a beautiful limestone cave hidden in a grove of oak trees. It was clear that this was a special spot for Laurent.

I even got to meet his adorable pup L, who’s trained to sniff out truffles on the property — pretty sweet dog trick!! (I don’t think Laurent was very impressed when I shared that Dexter’s best trick is putting her head on my shoulder on command.) 

Baumes Des Anges

The farm is irrigated using well water that Laurent collects in the freshwater pools on his property (one is shown above), contributing yet another natural, unadulterated ingredient into these amazingly pure and thoughtfully designed products. Laurent’s farm is one of just twelve farms (all organic or GLOBALG.A.P. certified) that provide the resources for the Baume Des Anges operation, including the farm that provides fresh-pressed organic sunflower oil for every batch of the Blissful Plant line for home cooks. I learned on my trip that the oil is pressed on-demand, leaving zero chance for rancidity or premature oxidation. 

The Better than Fresh Process

Baume Des Anges utilizes an extraction facility that Laurent designed and built himself, just off site from the farm. His proprietary, dry, cold extraction process transforms 2.5 cubic meters of fresh herbs per batch into tiny amounts of highly concentrated Baumes Des Angesessence, retaining the complex aromas and flavors of every plant that runs through the system.

Now, I have to admit, the first time I ever earned a grade lower than a B in school, it was in chemistry class my junior year. This fact, combined with Laurent’s thick French accent (I know zero French), made for a somewhat painstaking attempt on Laurent’s part to explain the process to me. The patience he displayed should probably qualify him for sainthood. But I’m pretty sure I got it all down correctly.

Here’s what I learned from my chemistry lesson:

In order to properly extract the essence from the herbs without damaging the plant, two things need to be precisely calibrated:

  • Pressure (needs to be low)
  • Temperature (needs to be 167° F)

Laurent has built vacuum pumps into his extraction system in order to accomplish this precision. Competing companies extract essences at temperatures at or above 212° F. 

You can read more about the process from seed to bottle here

Professional Grade vs. Home Chef

I was surprised to learn that the Blissful Plant line for home cooks (the cilantro I’d been using at home) is actually significantly diluted when compared to the liquid that comes out of the dry steam extractor. Laurent explained that he only sells the pure extracts to professionals. These pure essences draw the attention of world famous chefs like Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in the Napa Valley wine country and Per Se in NYC. These are just two among the 150 Michelin-starred restaurants using Laurent’s pure essences all over the world.

The Blissful line flavors are intense, but only 1% of what’s in the bottle is the pure extract. The rest is organic sunflower oil, pressed to order, and locally sourced mineral water. When you try the home chef line, you’ll understand why I was so surprised that they were diluted at all. The flavor is amazing with just a spray or two per person.

And it’s not just professional chefs who use these essences. Top of the line perfumers like Chanel, Guerlain, and Burberry source lavender essence from Laurent, which just goes to show you just how fancy this stuff really is!

Baume des Anges

I was lucky enough to walk away from this unique experience with a professional-grade bottle of Basil Essence, which Laurent recommended diluting by adding 7 drops to an entire liter of EVOO! Pretty powerful stuff! I have used it to infuse basil flavor into steak, homemade salad dressing, and roasted chicken, and I’ve loved the finished product every time. 

Because a 5mL bottle of pure extract can run above $500, I’m going to stick to sharing recipes using the Blissful Plant line. In the meantime, check out their full line of products (and recipes), and consider using them in salad dressings, marinades, and as finishing touches on both protein and veggie dishes.

Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup

cauliflowersoupcwb1

‘Tis the season for fresh veggies and light fare. As the days get longer and warmer, we can stow away our crock pots, press the pause button on our heavy sauces and stews, and pull out our salad spinners and steamers. Now’s the time for fresh salads and light soups, lean meats and fresh seafood. It’s spring!

This recipe replaces the heavy starchy potato with the fresh and light cauliflower — but not just any cauliflower, the ORANGE cauliflower. This awesome, vibrant orangey-yellow breed of cauliflower makes for a beautiful bright yellow soup rich with extra micronutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C and selenium.

Of course, you can make this soup with regular cauliflower, but I make no promise that it will be as beautiful upon completion. (I bet it will still be delicious though!)cauliflowersoupcwb

The Fresh Herb Quandary

One of the best things about having a small herb garden is that you only pull what you need for your meal, leaving the rest to grow and flourish until your next visit. I used to waste herbs all the time before I started my garden. I’d buy fresh herbs, use them for one recipe, and then forget about them until I found them in a nasty soupy plastic bag in my produce drawer three weeks later. I’ve found a solution to get them to last at least a bit longer, which helps a ton in those months when cilantro and basil won’t grow.

herbs

I say all this because I chose the herbs in this soup not only for flavor, but because I had an abundance in my garden. If you don’t have an herb garden or other recipes planned for the week to use up the herbs I call for in this recipe, don’t sweat it.

Be creative.

Use a combination of dried herbs instead, or use only sage and see what you think. (Sage keeps for a pretty long time in the fridge too.) OR, even better, plan your week around using the rest of these yummy herbs in your meals. (I’d recommend trying a parsley pesto — you’ll use the rest of that bunch right up and it will keep much longer.)

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow cauliflower
  • 2 to 3 cups veggie broth, water, or chicken broth
  • 1.5-2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp EVO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • OPTIONAL: butter or ghee
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley, sage, and oregano
  • 1/2 tbs REAL salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:cauliflowersoupcwb2

  1. Gently warm a large pot on the stove
  2. Add EVO, keeping heat below smoking point
  3. Add chopped onion and garlic (if using dried herbs instead of fresh, add them here as well)
  4. Lightly saute until soft and onions are translucent
  5. Add in chopped cauliflower and saute 3 minutes more, adding in small amounts of broth or water to make sure nothing burns
  6. When the cauliflower is almost soft, add in the rest of the broth the salt, the apple cider vinegar and the pepper — here’s where you add the fresh herbs if you use those
  7. Let simmer for a good 10 to 15 minutes
  8. Add in coconut milk and optional butter or ghee and turn off the fire
  9. Using an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth (you could also pour the whole thing into a blender, but that can get messy if you’re not careful — make sure you have someone holding the blender still, especially if your pot is heavy!)
  10. Serve in a shallow bowl and garnish with fresh parsley and a swirl of EVOcauliflowersoup1

 

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