Ancient glassware: spices, aromatic herbs and essences

Since ancient times, spices, aromatic herbs and essences have been some of the most expensive and valuable ingredients used for preparation of sweets. The long-standing tradition of apothecary is alive again thanks to our precious collection of vases and jars dating back to late-1800s and early-1900s.


Natural essences are among the most ancient natural ingredients, and have been used since ancient times in the production of cosmetics, medicines and sweets. They are extracted from fresh or dried plants by simple distillation with water vapor or through other techniques: squeezing, maceration, extraction with solvents etc. The pharmaceutical use of natural essences is mainly based on their physiological properties.


Both at home and in pastry shops, natural essences are used to obtain bases for cakes and desserts with an unsurpassed taste and aroma. In the preparation of desserts, the most common are the essence of vanilla, the essence of lemon and the essence of orange blossom.

Ancient Glassware

Steam extraction

One of the most used methods for extracting natural essences is steam extraction. It is used to obtain aromas from herbs, seeds, plants and roots. Steam distillation causes the release of the the volatile oils contained into the ingredient. The heat causes the plant, seed or root to decompose releasing its aromatic substances in the form of water vapor. This aromatic vapor is then condensed in a cooling cone to then be collected and bottled.

Curiosity! The conservation of natural essences

The natural essences must be stored in well-closed containers and protected from light because, if exposed to the latter, they oxidize quickly, while if left in the air they polymerize, losing their smell and their effects.