I made soap again, this time with Maria.
Maria from Veneto Italy. Maria who makes excellent gnocchi and really simple, delicious pasta dishes.
Maria the fantastic pizzica/bio-dancer.
Maria who corrected my Italian when I made mistakes.
Maria who got a bit impatient and grumpy when the first batch of soap took for ever to saponify…but persisted.
Maria, who very patiently distilled batch after batch after batch of lavender flowers and foliage to harness a humble 20mm litre bottle of lavender oil.
Now Maria has gone and I am left with scented soap, bottles of lavender infused water and an excellent method for making consistently good gnocchi.
Thank you for staying with us Maria Comunian.
A soap making story of photos.
Two years ago (June 2016) I planted Lavandula angustifolia (English) and stoechas (French/Spanish). Tiny little tubes of it.
Two years on (we are now May 2018) it has fully grown. This picture shows the Lavandula stoechas. Each autumn it needs to be cut right back.
I really wanted to put the cuttings to use. I did not want to send it to the compost heap nor to act as mulch. I wanted to distill its oil. My neighbours Tammi and Stuart were hosting work aways who had made their own oil distillation kit. And they were kind enougth to lend it to me. So we packed it full, distilled, emptied the pot and repacked with new foliage and flowers and kept doing so until we had used all of the lavender cuttings.
Tiny amounts of oil were harvested with each batch. The angustifolia flowers and stems produced a greater amount of oil than the stoechas stems. This tiny amount of oil was harvested from the stoechas lavender.
We drained the hydrosol first and then harvested the oil.
Afte many days we harvested a humble but very rewarding 20mm.
We had some duck fat left over from a meal and used it to make a small batch of soap from it. We learned that duck fat is very soft and should not be put through a mincer as it simply sticks to it. We combined the duck fat with a quantity of coconut oil to improve the saponification experience: to make a decent bar of soap. See Soap calculators to better understand what I mean.
We measured our lye.
We rendered the fat.
After rendering fat (we did various batches using various fats, this picture shows tallow, not duck fat. Tallow needs to be strained after render because there are many meat pieces tied in with the fat.
Then we mixed our lye and the rendered strained fat using the recipe we calculated on the online Soap Calculator. We used a stainless steel cake mixer to mix and mix and mix.
We reached thin trace.
Through in some lavender seeds and lavender oil and then poured the mixture into lined baking trays.
Two days later the soap is set. We remove it from the trays and cut to the size we want.
It looks like a delicious sweet slice.
It’s quite easy to make a years worth of soap in one day. Let it cure for a few weeks before use.