Cooking with Geranium Leaves and Geranium Essential Oil

How to Cook with Geranium – baking with scented leaf pelargoniums and flavouring frosting with geranium essential oil.

scented leaf pelargonium
Scented Pelargonium Leaves.

It’s the leaves in the Pelargonium plants (often incorrectly called geraniums) that yield essential oil. They come in a range of incredible scents, including orange, lemon, rose and even chocolate peppermint!

To use them in baking, clean the leaves and lay them at the bottom of a cake or bread tin. Pour in the mix and whilst baking, the essential oil held in the leaves will be inspired to rise through the mixture, infusing it with a delicate, sweet floral scent and flavour. Turn the tin upside down to tip out the baked cake and remove the leaves before eating (you can leave them in for show, but don’t eat them).

Fibrex Nurseries stock a range of scented leaved pelargoniam’s that would be suitable for use in baking, these are two of my favourites: Attar of Roses & Islington Peppermint:

Attar of Roses - Scented Leaf Pelargonium       

This technique would work well with any cake or bread recipe that has a fairly delicate flavour to allow the scent of the geranium/pelargonium to come through. A plain sponge is probably best for highlighting the fragrance.

Here are a couple of delicious options you could experiment with:

You can also flavour cake icing with Geranium Essential Oil – you must use a food grade essential oil for this and only a tiny amount of essential oil, or you will find the flavour too over powering.

Coconut and Carrot Cake – by Live Love Nourish.

How to Cook with Essential Oils – an Introduction

You may not be aware of it but you’re likely to be cooking with essential oils in some way on a daily basis.

Essential oils are made from an array of plant material that contain highly scented volatile parts. This could be eucalyptus leaves, cardamom pods, lavender flowers or rose petals. To make them into an essential oil the plant material goes through a process called distillation. This involves steam passing through and releasing those molecules then capturing the oil as the steam turns back into water.

There are many plant materials containing essential oils that are commonly used during cooking and when you apply heat to them this releases those oils that make for delicious smells in your kitchen:

Spices: When you heat up seeds like coriander, cumin and fennel,  in preparation for something like a curry or a tagine, it makes for a mouth-watering atmosphere. The essential oils also have an effect on your digestive system by stimulating digestive juices, (hence the ‘mouth-watering’).  Try this Garam Masala Recipe to experience the affect of releasing essential oils when preparing a spice mix.

Herbs:  With some herbs, such as basil, rosemary and thyme, the heat on a sunny day will be enough to initiate a waft of essential oil as you pass by, and on cooler days you may need to rub the leaves with warm fingers to release the scent.

Flowers: You can use many flowers in food for their perfume and delicate taste such as roses, orange blossom, geraniums and of course lavender.

I have been experimenting with cooking with essential oils and scented plant materials recently and it can be as simple as sprinkling some rose petals on your meal or adding a drop of lemon essential oil to your bottle of olive oil for dressing salads. I  sometimes sprinkle fresh or dried lavender flowers on meat or fish when baking them in the over, and it smells amazing! It doesn’t take much for a magic touch*.

CAUTION: When using essential oils in cooking you need to be very sure that you are buying from a trust worthy source, where the oil is not diluted, adulterated or synthetic. Essential Oils by Laura Hoy are suitable for flavouring foods.