Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Crafting, Part 2

Making pomanders for the holidays is an easy and fragrant craft to do.  It is traditionally done with an orange studded with whole cloves and then rolled in spices and left to dry.  Once dried, it can last many years, and can be put out with your Christmas decorations year after year.  Many people associate the smell of orange and cloves with Christmases of their past, remembering that smell from Grandma's house.
Pomanders are relatively easy to make, and don't have to be limited to oranges.  You can make them out of oranges, lemons, limes, or even apples or pears.  The fruit is studded with whole cloves.  You can push the stems of the cloves right through the fruit skin, or make it a little easier by piercing the skin first and then pushing the stem of the clove into it.  I like to use bamboo skewers to pierce the skin.  It makes it go a little easier - although I still end up with sore fingers when I'm done.  Some people prefer to use a thimble to protect their fingers.  Maybe I should try that next year.
Here I have started an orange and also a lime.  I stud the fruit with whole cloves.  I like to do it in rows, so my cloves are fairly evenly distributed.
The cloves need to be placed evenly around the fruit, leaving a little space between them.  The fruit will shrink as it dries, so you need to have some space between the cloves.  As the fruit shrinks, the cloves with get closer together.  The cloves themselves will actually start to dry the fruit.  Within a day or so, you can actually see the skin of the fruit change color as it starts to dry.
I try to do the whole fruit in one sitting.  It can be done in less than an hour.  But don't fret if you get interrupted, you can put it aside and come back several hours later - even a day later - and finish it up.  It also goes much faster if you have some help.

My daughter Grace helped finish up the orange.  She did a really great job.
Once you have the whole fruit studded with the cloves, you need to make a spice mixture to roll the pomander in.  This will help to dry the fruit out completely and preserve it for a long time.  Here is the mixture I use:  3 Tblsp. ground cinnamon, 3 Tblsp. ground cloves, 3 Tblsp. ground nutmeg, 3 Tblsp. ground ginger, and 3 Tblsp. ground orris root.  Now don't panic........I have also seen recipes using only the cinnamon, or cinnamon and cloves.  I like this recipe because it combines a variety of spice fragrances and does a lovely job of preserving the pomander. Orris root?????  You wonder what orris root is?  Orris root is actually a type of iris.  Its roots are dried and then ground into powder.  It is a 'fixative' for fragrances.  That will absorb the fragrance of the other spices and 'fix' or hold the fragrance for a long time.  It is frequently used in potpourri.
Here is the completed orange being sprinkled with the spice mixture.
When your fruit is complete, I like to put it into a small brown paper bag - a lunch bag is a great size.  I put the pomander in with about 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture and then I shake the bag once a day to coat the fruit with the spice mixture.  It will be dry in about 10 days to 2 weeks - depending on the size of the fruit. 

Here is the pomander down in the bag with the spice mixture.
You can then tie some pretty ribbon around it and hang it in the doorway, or on your tree.  You can display several pomanders in a bowl on the table.  Or find your own creative way to display your pomander.  I hope to do 1 or 2 a year and have a variety of shapes and sizes to display and make the house fragrant!
If you are interested in doing your own pomanders, but don't know where to get the supplies, come on down to my shop.  I have the spice mixture already blended and can sell you a few tablespoonsful.

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