In this first post of 2011, HerbDoc talks about pomanders, and how to make them:
Ahhhhh! I love the spicy scent of pomanders and try to make several every few years. What we think of as pomanders today, oranges studded with whole cloves, is a far cry from what they were originally made of.
Because there were so many obnoxious odors in medieval society (think rotting garbage, open sewers, etc.), the upper crust would wend their way through the streets daintily sniffing their pomanders in lacy hankies. They believed their scented herbal would protect them from disease and pestilence. These pomanders were often made from beeswax or soil balls and were imbued with herbs, perfumes and spices.
Here’s how to make modern day pomanders. Buy several fresh oranges (or any citrus fruits) that are free from blemishes, whole cloves, and spices. I prefer to cover the entire fruit with cloves and find that it takes about 1 ½ – 2 ounces of whole cloves per orange. To save funds, buy the whole cloves and your favorite spices at the local dollar store!
Use two bowls. One will be the receptacle for the orange and the other will hold the cloves. If you try to use one bowl for this work, it will become a huge sticky mess! Although my original directions called for using a large needle or an ice pick to make holes in the fruit, I’ve found that using a four-tined fork makes the work easier. Make 4 – 12 holes spaced evenly apart and insert the cloves. It’s best to go around the circumference of the orange in two directions and then fill in the areas so the fruit will not split. Plan to finish each pomander in one sitting and immediately transfer it to a platter to be dusted with cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg and ginger. Orris root can also be used as a preservative if desired, but if the cloves are placed closely together and the fruit is dusted in spices, my pomanders last many years without it.
Once the pomanders are completed and have dried for three to four weeks, they can be enclosed in netting and tied with ribbon. The scent is heavenly and is a wonderful addition to closets and drawers. One aside…if you plan to display them, make more than you need. Everyone will want to take one home!