Originally small filigree balls of gold, silver, or ivory filled with fragrant spices and an ambergris fixative, pomanders (from the French pomme d’ambre, or apple of ambergris) were used as early as the Middle Ages, when they were worn to ward off unpleasant odors. Later their spicy, cheerful fragrance became traditionally associated with the winter holidays
Today’s most common version of the pomander is made by studding a piece of fruit with cloves and curing it in a mixture of ground spices with orrisroot as a fixative. These can be used in decorative potpourri bowls, hung around the house or even given as charming gifts.
ORANGE POMANDER BALL
- 8 medium-sized thin-skinned Oranges
- 6 cups Cloves – Whole
- 4 cups Orris Root Powder
- 2 cups Cinnamon Powder
- 1-1/2 cups Allspice Powder
- 1 cup Nutmeg Ground
- Essential Oils: Orange and Clove (Optional)
Roll orange in hands to warm orange skin so cloves will penetrate better. Insert cloves by hand or use a darning needle first to poke holes in the orange. Leave about 1/8″ space between cloves as the orange will shrink to almost half its original size as it dries. Add oil to clove-studded orange at this point (optional). While traditionally covered with cloves you can create a decorative pattern if you choose.
Blend all powders and roll cloved oranges in it to fill small spaces between cloves.
Pomander can be additionally decorated with ribbons, bows, small pinnable ornaments, flowers or the jeweled or beaded straight pins etc all found in craft stores. Your imagination is the limit!
Put rolled pomanders in small cardboard box lined with tissue paper. Pour remaining powder over the pomanders, covering bottom of box. Cover box and store in warm (not hot) dry place 3 to 4 weeks (or 2-3 weeks) depending on the size of your oranges. Avoid high humidity and extreme warmth. When dried thoroughly, shake off excess powder, tie festive ribbons around pomander with bow and loop at top for hanging.
Powder can be saved and used again. If stored carefully, your pomanders can be re-used for years to come.