Sweet Summer Scents
Anyone who has grown scented geraniums knows how fragrant their leaves are. You need only brush by a patch to release their lovely perfume. Cooks have long known that the leaves can be used to add flavor to various dishes. Not all scented geraniums are suited for cooking, but the sweet scented ones (lemon, nutmeg, rose, mint, etc.) certainly are. Rose scented geraniums are by far the most favored for culinary purposes. They can be infused in hot liquid to make simple syrups or cut up and added directly to dishes. Scented geranium leaves are often used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. At the end of the article, I’ll include a fun recipe for homemade toothpaste.
Scented geraniums are really not geraniums at all. They are of the genus Pelargonium. Their leaves, however, do resemble geraniums, and they are in the same botanical family Geraniaceae. They have a variety of flowers and leaf shapes, and make lovely house and garden plants. Scented Geraniums can be propagated very easily from stem cuttings or grown from seed. They are regarded as herbs.
In their native habitat of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, the scented geraniums are perennial. In most of the US, they are treated as annuals or tender perennials. They were first brought to Europe around the 1600s and soon became a mainstay of the perfume industry. Cooks were quick to follow.
I did an Herb Committee presentation on scented geraniums in April and brought a delightful lemonade infused with leaves from the rose variety for everyone to try. There are several recipes using rose geranium in the Member’s Only Recipe Box on this site. Look for the following: Rose Scented Geranium Lemonade, Blackberries with Rose Geranium Leaves and Rose Geranium Blueberry Crisp. Searching the web will bring you to many more interesting recipes.
Here is that toothpaste recipe I promised you!
Rose Geranium Toothpaste
½ oz. Powdered Chalk
3 oz. Powdered Orris Root
4 tsp. Tincture of Vanilla
15 drops Oil of Rose Geranium
Honey (enough to make a paste)
- Combine all ingredients and mix until you have a paste in an agreeable consistency.
- Store in an air tight container.
- Use a clean popsicle stick to scoop paste onto your tooth brush.