Sunday, December 21, 2008

How To Make A Pomander

Bring a little sunshine into your cold winter days by making sweet citrus pomanders. This is a perfect craft for Winter Solstice or Christmas decorating, and pomanders smell divine. It's also easy, so children can help make pomanders, too.

Pomanders have been made and used since medieval times. Originally they were used to mask odors and were believed to keep sickness at bay. In the Tudor period, it is said that King Henry VIII's friend, the great Cardinal Wolsey, always held a pomander before his nose whenever he went out among the common people, a gesture that did not make him very popular with them. Nowadays, pomanders are used as a natural air freshener for rooms or closets, as well as decor during the winter holidays.

  • fresh, unblemished oranges, lemons or apples
  • whole cloves
  • narrow masking tape
  • Exacto knife
  • satin ribbon
  • scissors
SAFETY FIRST~ If you are making pomanders with kids, give them a sharp nail with a flat head, a thumbtack or a toothpick to make holes in the fruit's rind, instead of using an Exacto knife.

  • 1 TBSP ground nutmeg
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP ground cloves
  • sandalwood oil (4-5 drops)
  • paper bag

Use the masking tape to tape off any areas where you would like to wrap ribbon when your pomander is complete. It also helps to create guidelines for placing the cloves. If you don't wish to use ribbon, you can skip this step.

Use the tip of the Exacto knife to make small holes in the orange rind. Make the holes approximately 1/4 inch apart (or less).

Press the stems of the cloves as deeply as possible into the holes you've made. You may wish to create patterns with the cloves-- such as stripes or diamond shapes-- or, you can simply fill in the entire surface of the orange with evenly spaced cloves. (The more cloves you use, the better chance the fruit will be better preserved and the less chance that it will mold or rot.)

Above, my finished design, with the tape removed. (As you can see, I'm taking a chance this year, using less cloves in my design... we'll see what happens.)

The above photo shows my freshly made pomander on the left and a completely dried pomander on the right. As the pomander dries and shrinks, you may need to go back every few days and push the cloves further in-- the rind will pull away from them as the fruit shrinks. The pomander will begin to feel lighter and hollow as it becomes dried out. As you can see in picture, your fruit will shrink to almost half of its original size.

At this point you have a couple of options:
  • OPTION 1~ If you like your pomander and its scent the way it is, put it in a cool, dry, shady place to dry. You can add ribbon to it at this time if you like, but you will have to tighten it as your fruit dries and shrinks, so you may want to wait until it has thoroughly dried before adding your ribbon and/or bows. You can display your pomander, as long as its in a cool, dry and shady spot.
THINK AHEAD OPTION BELOW-- creating pomanders 3-6 weeks BEFORE the holidays
  • OPTION 2~ If you'd like to add more scent as well as an extra preservative to your pomander, then mix the ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a paper bag with 4-5 drops of sandalwood oil (the oil acts as a natural preservative, an alternative to orris root powder). Put your pomander in the bag and shake it well to get it evenly coated with spices. Leave the pomander in the bag and put it in a cool, dry place. Shake it in the spices once or twice daily and let it dry for 3 to 6 weeks. Once it sounds and feels hollow, remove it from the bag, dust off the spices with a soft bristle paintbrush, add your ribbon and display.
I think orange pomanders smell heavenly without needing the extra spices, so I've not made one using that extra step. My first pomander kept its scent for almost 2 years. I have not experienced any difficulties with mold or rot either, so long as the pomander is kept in a cool, dry, shady place.

What will YOUR pomander look like?


Suzie Ridler said...

Wonderful! What a fantastic and helpful tutorial, thank you for that. Those are my favourite kind of blog posts.

Thank you also for your kind words on my blog, they REALLY helped me. I think you're right, I have just taken on too much. I will try blogging without obligation. I think it's going to be the only way for me to continue. Hugs!

peppylady (Dora) said...

I forgot about pomander.
I have never made one but they look so easy.

Coffee is on.

Sally MacAdams said...

thanks for this - here's what i did:
xo sally