The mystery.

The mystery.

I find myself wanting to “crack the code” of an essential oil. Meaning, give me the chemical make up and I will plug it in and tell you what it will smell like. I figure, if chemical constituents are what give essential oils their fragrance, then wouldn’t it be as simple as geranial + neral + caryophyllene + citronelial + etc. = Melissa a.k.a. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)?

 

And then, if Melissa smells like tomatoes to me, then wouldn’t the main chemical constituents of the tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum L.) be similar? Wouldn‘t they have chemical constituents in common? I’d think so, but alas that isn’t the case. The aroma profile of the vine-ripe Italian tomato is: (Z)-3-hexenal (grassy), trans-4,5-epoxy- (E)-2-decenal (metallic), 3-(methylthio)propanal (potato-like) and 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl-3(2H)-furanone (caramel-like). (The Chemistry Behind Tomato Quality by Dario Paoloa, Giulia Bianchia, Roberto Lo Scalzoa, Carlo F. Morellib, Marco Rabuffettic and Giovanna Speranza.)

 

Furthermore, the chemical constituents of both plants - and all essential oils - are greatly affected and determined by climate, cultivation, harvest, etc. I haven’t been able to find the chemical reason for why Melissa smells like tomatoes to me. Oh well. I’m not one to give up, but there is something magical about essential oils such that I am going to turn myself over to the mystery.

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