Rose geraniums are so intensely fragrant, you’re tempted to eat them.
And Pelargonium Graveolens is indeed an edible flower. Just now, having soaked up lots of sun, rose geranium blooms and leaves are full of heavenly essential oil. The lightest brush with your finger releases a scent that makes you feeling like you’re standing in a rose garden.
In a region where cooks often scent pastry with rose and orange blossom water, it’s natural that scented geraniums should also have a place. But flavoring with geraniums is viewed as folklore, a cute thing to do with kindergarteners baking cookies (carefully placing one leaf in the middle of each cookie before Teacher slides the tray into the oven). Still, lovers of old-fashioned teas enjoy breaking a few leaves off to make a fragrant brew. And hoping to revive the custom, I’ve posted a truly exquisite, summery, geranium-flavored sweet cream to serve with fruit.
So let me show you how to make a rose geranium liqueur. It’s a treat to serve with dessert, candy-like but not cloying. It impresses your guests. And it couldn’t be more simple to make.
Rose Geranium Liqueur
You need a bottle of arak, or failing that, a bottle of vodka, some water and some sugar.
Pour off about a third of the arak and reserve for some other purpose. Stuff the empty space with rose geranium flowers and leaves.
Keep adding herb, pushing them down with a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon, until the bottle is almost full.
Pour a little of the arak back in to cover the flowers.
Cap the bottle and leave it alone in a dark place for 2 weeks. Then strain the liqueur and re-bottle into out into a clean bottle, capping it tightly.
Make a simple syrup of 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar, boiled together until the sugar dissolves then cooled.
Remove 1- 1/2 cups of vodka from the bottle and proceed to stuff flowers into it as above.
Top with the syrup and mix well. If there’s empty space, use the reserved vodka to fill it up.
Keep unused syrup, refrigerated, for sweetening later.
Cap tightly and store in a dark place for 2 weeks. Taste for sweetness, adding more syrup if liked. Just remember: the more syrup, the less alcohol content. Also, the flowers have a sweet taste themselves, so don’t over-sweeten by mistake.
The liqueur will keep a long time in dark cabinet, but you may find that after a year or so, it will acquire a slightly bitter, herbal aftertaste. When that happens, it’s time to make fresh. It won’t hurt you – I actually rather enjoy it that way.
Anyway, serve this floral drink very cold, as it is or mixed with tonic water. Or flavor plain soda with it. Light and relaxing, not only because of the alcohol, which is after all diluted by juice from the herb and simple syrup, but because rose geraniums have anti-depressive, anti-inflammatory medicinal properties. Just so you should know.