Vegetables & perfume: fragrances go green

vegetables and perfume go hand in hand to create original compositions with surprising essences

Artichoke, asparagus, leek… This is not our shopping list but vegetables with atypical perfume that are stirring up the world of fragrance! Vegetable essences are popular with noses, which find a new playground for creating original and fresh tones. From the garden to the bottle, the vegetable notes in fragrances titillate our nostrils with a wide variety of scents.

Perfume and vegetables: new trend?

The olfactory trends in perfumery since the 1950s have evolved considerably. For decades and according to desires, consumption patterns or the major changes in our societies, perfume creators have been inspired by our daily lives to offer essences that resemble us. The powerful and oriental scents of the eighties have given way to gourmand perfumes on the shelves of perfumeries. These fragrances have imposed themselves over the last 20 years, tickling our nostrils with regressive and comforting scents. The fruity notes also appear in the middle of these sweet fragrances. Today, perfumery is turning towards more naturalness and freshness. And if the noses already know how to sublimate the floral notes of our gardens, they are now inspired by the richness of vegetables.

Vegetable essences: the scent gets out into the country

Existing accords

If this trend seems to shake up the world of perfumery, it is not the first time that the perfume of vegetables are invited into the compositions. However, these notes were until then recreated thanks to green accords, created by combinations of natural ingredients and several synthetic molecules in particular. This is the case of peas (whose fresh and crunchy aspect is delivered by the essence of galbanum), beet or cucumber, whose watery and thirst-quenching notes make the eau de parfum alõ shiver. Some parts of fruits and vegetables are sometimes used, such as the tomato leaf with its green and sour notes, without transmitting its fleshy and juicy side.

Extract the natural

In this “green” movement and this search for freshness and authenticity, new extraction technologies are developed to capture the fragrance of the vegetables, to perfume formulas.

Symrise, a global supplier of fragrances, flavorings, cosmetic active ingredients and raw materials, has created a novel extraction process called SymTrap. Its aim is to capture the aromatic microelements of vegetables (the most fragrant ones). This technology is capable of recovering the volatile molecules with the highest concentration from the steam used to cook vegetables. Then this water is removed from the steam, to introduce it instead of alcohol. Thanks to this operation, a vegetable alcoholate is obtained that is highly concentrated in odor, which allows the perfumer’s palette to be broadened. Asparagus, artichoke, cauliflower, onion or leek are new materials with an olfactory rendering as close to natural as possible.

These ingredients then make it possible to bring “texture” to a composition or to enhance new facets of more traditional materials.

A small tour in the vegetable garden

Today, a multitude of vegetables can perfume the compositions. And each one will bring different tones and surprising nuances, from earthy to sweet, even powdery or fruity. Here are a few ingredients from the vegetable garden that might tickle your nose:

Royal artichoke

The artichoke is actually a thistle flower that became a dish appreciated by kings and particularly by Louis XIV who ate it at almost every meal! This vegetable contains cynarine, a compound that delivers that little sweet taste you feel when you eat it. This ingredient seduces perfumers with its soft and creamy facets with a velvety appearance and green notes. It can be used to accentuate more classic materials such as rose, with which it shares common tonalities. It will bring richness and a vegetal note to a floral bouquet and can be used in both feminine and masculine juices.

The promising leek

Native to the Middle East and Asia, leek is one of the most interesting ingredients among vegetables. Its essence reveals very green tones with a salty and moist appearance, reminiscent of algae and mushrooms. It can bring new nuances to a fern accord or evoke surprising tones in a chypre by accentuating the marine and mineral side. Even more surprisingly, the power of leek also goes well with tropical fruits such as mango or passion fruit, bringing them a real olfactory boost.

The surprising onion

Here is an ingredient that we didn’t expect to find in a perfume and yet! If it is not the best friend of your breath, onion can quickly become the ally of your fragrances! Indeed, this material has sulphur tones with spicy and sharp notes, but also sweet or acidulous facets. This ingredient will come to “boost” a composition by bringing pep and relief to it. The onion is also particularly effective to enhance the acidity of exotic fruits in a formula. It is then associated with lychee or grapefruit. It allows to bring a sensual aspect, but also power and “juiciness”.

Powdered carrot

In perfumery for the moment, the seeds of the carrot are used. These are distilled to deliver an essential oil with powdery and musky facets. The carrot note can also be recreated thanks to ambrette seeds which remind us of its soft and amber tones. The carrot reinforces floral and powdery accords alongside the mimosa or violet. This ingredient even allows in some cases to replace the iris, a rare and expensive raw material. But the carrot also goes perfectly with woody juices in which it distills a certain freshness.

The multiple facets of asparagus

Star of our plates in spring, asparagus is also slowly but surely making its way into our compositions. It is an ingredient with a very interesting olfactory profile because it reveals multiple facets. We find green and salty notes, and some people sometimes speak of a “bread crust” aspect. Its hazelnut taste is also expressed in its earthy and powdery notes, sometimes reminiscent of patchouli. Asparagus allows to modernize more classical floral or woody accords and can replace a galbanum note.

Fennel with aniseed flavor

Fennel is a vegetable known and appreciated since ancient times. Its particular aniseed taste has seduced gourmets but also perfumers for its originality and freshness. To use it, the fennel seeds are distilled to obtain a very fragrant essence, mainly used in phytotherapy for its many virtues. This material also makes it possible to brighten compositions up with aniseed notes, a caramelized aspect and undertones of cumin.

Gourmand cauliflower

Cauliflower is a vegetable with a creamy and spicy fragrance. It is also used for its animal facets that create powerful and musky notes. This ingredient reveals mustard seed facets, but also an acidulous side that reminds us of wasabi. With cauliflower, it is a new form of salty delicacy that is offered to our noses! It blends very well with oriental accords, especially with the roundness of vanilla and amber notes to bring them a new dimension. In woody or leathery juices, it counterbalances very earthy or smoky nuances.

Now that you know a little more about the associations of perfume and vegetables, would you perfume yourself with these uncommon essences or are you skeptical?


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