How to Make a DIY Citrus Pomander

how to make a pomander

Freshen your Closet or Kitchen like aN 18th century Youth

Winter citrus is one of the bright spots of a cold, Midwestern winter.  Aside from greens, roots, and greenhouse-grown veggies, there's not much new and exciting produce around this time of year.  That is, with the exception of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, and tangerines.  This time of year you can find more "special" varieties of citrus like blood orange, Meyer lemons (cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon) and pomelo (an Asian grapefruit that's green on the outside and pink and sweet-tart on the inside).  Try one of the unique varieties in your favorite citrus recipe, as they are usually only in season and available from December to February.

Instead of sharing a cooking recipe today, I thought I'd have some fun and show you how to make a citrus craft: DIY Citrus Pomanders!  A citrus pomander is simply an orange studded with cloves that makes a lovely and lasting perfumed ornament.  Once dried, these can be displayed, hung in closets, or tucked into drawers to add a fresh scent.  Started in the Middle Ages, pomanders were made in Colonial American times as well as up until the Victorian era.  If you have been wanting to feel like a Felicity the American Girl Doll getting ready for Christmas, boy have I got you covered with this DIY crafting project.  

How to Make a Citrus Pomander

In addition to their great taste, vitamin C content, fiber, and flavonoids, citrus fruits are also known for their aromatic and antimicrobial properties.  The combination of citrus with the cloves (and optional other spices) helps the fruit dry out evenly and smell fresh, although it's admittedly an imperfect science.  I've made some that molded and some that lasted.  You can display these fresh on a bowl or platter for a week or two if you aren't up for experimenting with drying them out. 

Some tips: Use a fresh orange with a thick skin rather than one that is starting to soften or age.  A toss with orris root powder can help preserve these, as does hanging them to dry for a week or so before displaying them.  Orris root powder can be found online* and you can add other ground spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to it before tossing with the fruit.

Citrus Pomander recipe
makes 1 pomander

  • 1 orange
  • 1 wooden skewer, toothpick, or nail
  • 1/4 cup of whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of orris root powder (optional)
  • Large bowl or paper grocery bag
  • Twine or string for hanging

1. Take your orange and using the wooden skewer (or a nail) poke holes in the orange where you want to place the cloves.  You can do any kind of pattern or simply stud the whole orange evenly.  Push cloves into the  prepared holes.  

2. Add orris root powder to a large bowl or gallon ziploc bag and gently coat the orange evenly with this natural preservative (it’ll help prevent molding and acts as a perfume fixative).  This step is optional.

3. To hang to dry, secure a piece of twine around the orange and  hang on a hanger in a dark, dry closet for a week to help dry it out.  You can also use a rubberband if the twine slips or simply store them in a paper bag in a dry place, rotating them every 1-2 days.   Then store or display as desired.

Can't Get Enough of that Citrus Scent?

Love the smell of citrus and looking for more ways to freshen up your house with it? Check out my post on How to Get Rid of Kitchen Smells to learn 2 natural ways to freshen up your kitchen after cooking. 

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