The pomander clove-studded citrus fruit is a traditional Christmas ornament and New Year’s gift. As early as the 17th and 18th century the decorated orange stuck with cloves was often mentioned as a Christmas or New Year’s custom. The Victorians hung pomanders in their closets to ward off moths. Every Thanksgiving I make the spicy orange pomanders and come Christmas time they are dried and ready to be put out in a large festive bowl for my family and friends to take home as a thoughtful handcrafted gift and the rich spicy fragrance will last for years! I thought you might enjoy making your own special pomanders this year and because they are so simple to make it's also a nice project to do with your children or a great activity for children to make in supervised groups too.~~~*~~~
Traditional Spicy Orange Pomanders
Makes 6 pomanders
(select firm, unblemished ones)
or lemons or limes may be used instead
1/2 - cup ground cinnamon
1/4 - cup ground cloves
1 - tablespoon ground allspice
1 - tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 - tablespoon ground coriander
2 - tablespoons ground orris root
(this, along with the spices act as a preservative)
1/4 to 1/2 - cup whole large head cloves
A toothpick, wooden skewer or large needle to make the holes
Large heavy brown paper (grocery type) bag
Ribbon for hanging pomanders
*Alternative to using orris root - 8 drops sandalwood oil (a natural preservative).
In traditional pomanders, Orris root is used to act as a preservative and scent enhancer. Orris root is from the Iris bulb that has been dried and ground to a fine powder. Some people have shown allergic reactions to Orris root. You can use sandalwood oil as an alternative preserver.
Use your toothpick, wooden skewer or large needle to poke holes into the orange, about 1/8 inch apart, and then push a clove into each hole. A traditional pomander covers the entire orange with cloves, but you can make fun patterns or even ones with monograms on them, be sure to draw your pattern on the orange before you begin. When covering the entire orange I have found it is easiest to work on one small area at a time and continue until the orange is completely covered.
**Mix all of the ground spices and orris root (or sandalwood oil) thoroughly in your large heavy brown paper (grocery type) bag and roll your clove-studded oranges in it, filling the spaces between the cloves as much as possible. Leave your pomanders in the bag with the top open in a warm, dry room and turn daily during the drying process, around 3 to 4 weeks, until the skin becomes hard. As the orange begins to dry their natural scent will blend with the scent of the cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon resulting in a wonderful orange spice fragrance! You will know when they are ready, your pomanders will have shrunk a bit and will be dry and hard. Shake off excess spice powder (any excess can be saved and used again).
**OR another method I have read recently, if you would like to try drying your pomanders without the spices, is to simply place your finished clove studded orange pomanders on newspaper in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location and turn them daily until dried. I have never tried this method myself and I think I will give it a try this year with a few pomanders to see.
Tie around the pomander with a ribbon if desired and hang in wardrobes, cupboards, Christmas tree or display in a bowl. I give them as gifts at Christmas time but you can savor the wonderful spicy fragrance filling your house over the Christmas holiday and give them as a traditional New Years Eve gift!
A pomander's scent usually lasts for several years but they can be refreshed by dipping the pomander in warm water, then rolling it in fresh spices mixed with a drop or two of cinnamon or clove oil . Leave the pomander in the mixture for a few days then use as before.