This recipe for Citronella Plant Simple Syrup uses leaves from the Citronella Geranium (or Mosquito Plant), and infuses them into a sweet, fragrant syrup that's perfect for sweetening herbal tea, lemonade, and cocktails!
I found out something exciting-- something "plantastic."
Earlier this year, a friend showed up at my front door with a green, aromatic beauty of a plant-- a Citronella Geranium-- and I've been smiling happily at it ever since. And then, I found out it was edible!
After a little plant research, I gathered up a couple leaves, and I knew just what to do!
One of my favorite things to do with deliciously scented edible plants is to infuse them into a simple syrup. I love mint simple syrup, honeysuckle simple syrup, and of course, this citronella simple syrup.
What Type of Citronella Plant Should I Use?
This recipe uses Citronella Geranium, also known as a Citronella Flower, Mosquito Plant, or Pelargonium citrosum.
Citronella geranium is a type of cultivated geranium, the type of plant you'll find in your garden and (probably) not in the wild.
That should make identifying the plant fairly easy, because you probably purchased it yourself at a garden store. However, if you need help, check out this guide for identifying Citronella geraniums.
Is Citronella Edible?
Citronella geraniums are edible, yes!
This plant is part of the (edible) geranium family. Both the flowers and leaves are scented, and both are edible.
For this citronella syrup, we're using the leaves (not the flowers).
Inedible Look-Alike (Smell-Alike) Plants
The other type of citronella you might find is citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus or Cymbopogon winterianus).
Citronella grass looks nothing like citronella geranium, however it does have a similar citronella scent (and a similar name).
Citronella grass has long, thin blades, and the oil from this plant is used for citronella bug repellent.
Do not use citronella grass for this recipe.
Citronella grass isn't known to be poisonous, but it's more likely to produce an allergic reaction. See a photo of citronella grass here.
How to Safely Eat Garden Flowers
If you're an avid food gardener, you probably eat from your garden all the time! However, if you're planning on eating from your flower bed, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Pollutants: Avoid flowers near the roadway, or other sources of pollutants. If you have flowers planted near an old fence or house, check to make sure there isn't lead-based paint contaminating the soil.
Insecticides: Avoid flowers that have been treated with insecticides. Be especially careful with systemic insecticides, which introduce a poison throughout the plant (and then also to you when you eat it).
Stinging Insects: When flowering plants are in bloom, they'll attract bees. Bees are good-- they pollinate the plants-- but watch where you place your hands when you're harvesting.
Correctly Identify the Plant: And finally, but maybe most importantly, make sure that you're 100% sure that you know what you're harvesting.
How to Use Citronella Plant Simple Syrup
Use it to sweeten herbal tea or lemonade, swap it for the plain simple syrup in a Mint Julep, or use it to sweeten a gin and tonic.
Citronella Plant Simple Syrup
- 2 citronella geranium (mosquito plant) leaves (Do not use citronella grass in this recipe)
- 4 mint leaves (optional)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Rinse the leaves by dipping them in a bowl of cool water.
- Add the leaves, sugar, and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to medium. Simmer 5 minutes.
- Strain leaves out of the syrup. Store syrup in a glass jar or other container. Store in the fridge for up to a month.