9.10.09 Scented Geraniums
I love scented geraniums (pelargonium). Their sweetly spicy aroma makes me swoon and revives me all at once. (I wonder if this is why they were so popular with Victorian ladies?) There are so many different varieties—apple, lime, ginger, lemon, rose, frankincense—and they retain their smell all year long. The oil exuded by their leaves is said to repel mosquitoes and biting flies; it is also antibacterial and speeds the healing of cuts and burns. My friend Kenny wears it as his signature fragrance. A couple of drops on your pulse points and you smell great all day long. You can also use scented geraniums in cooking: to flavor sugar or simple syrups; to line the bottom of a cake pan before pouring in the batter; in vinegars and marinades; combined with lemon balm or mint for tea.
Scented geraniums are super easy to grow and will tolerate many conditions, including my black-thumbitis with indoor plants. When the temperature dropped below 45 degrees, I cut my outdoor plants way back, rooted some cuttings and planted them in pots which are now indoors. They like a sunny spot, a good pruning and not too much water and in return they give off a subtle fragrance. Crush the leaves and it becomes much more intense. I dried a couple of big bunches of leaves, just laying them flat on cookie sheets in a cool spot, and I think I'm going to make sachets with them. I have some beautiful velvet and linen cushions that the mice got to in the attic last year and I hope to repurpose them. Martha, eat my dust!
makes about 1 cup
— 1/2 cup sugar
— 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
— 1/4 cup water
— 8-10 scented geranium leaves (rose, lemon or ginger work nicely)
Heat sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Lightly crush geranium leaves and stir them in. Cover and let steep for about 4 hours. Strain into a jar and refrigerate.
Add a tablespoon of this to a glass of ice and fill with club soda. Or drizzle it over any combination of fruit, cake and cream. (Try pound cake & peaches; berries & creme fraiche; ice cream & toasted hazelnuts, etc.)