Pomanders are spicy, sweetly-scented decorations made from fruits that are thick-skinned, firm, and unblemished. Fruits that work well for this are apples, oranges, limes, lemons, tangerines, or kumquats.
A wooden skewer or chopstick can be used to pierce the fruit from stem end to blossom end. The stick needs to be left in place until the pomander is completely dried. This will leave a channel through the center of your pomander through which you can attach a ribbon for hanging the ornament.
Pierce small holes in the skin of the fruit with pointed tweezers and push whole cloves into the fruit. Decorative effects can be created by patterning the cloves in stripes, swirls or stars, covering as much of the surface as possible. Pomanders with an evenly-studded pattern are usually the best. Open areas of skin, which expand and contract at different rates when the fruit is drying, may develop bumps and cracks.
After studding the fruit with cloves, roll it in a mixture of powdered spices and fixatives. Keep the spices or powdered botanicals you select in a 50-50 ratio to the fixative. You can enhance the fragrance of the spice mixture by adding different oils. Apply sweet orange oil, or other oils, to the exposed skin with an eyedropper so the spice mixture will adhere to the fruit. Gently shake the fruit and spice mixture in a small paper or plastic bag. The pomander then needs to be stored in a cool dry place for several weeks to dry completely. However, if you are in a hurry to use the pomander, it can be dried in an oven for several hours at the lowest temperature setting. This drying method will give the pomander a cooked odor.
The spices, herbs, and fixatives you use in the rolling mixture will vary the color of your pomanders. Bay will add a light greenish-yellow to the pomander. You can alter the color and texture of the ornaments by applying perfect whole star anise to the surface in patterns along with the cloves. Hold the stars in place with glass-headed pins. For a glittering effect, attach sequins and beads to the pomander when you apply the cloves. After the pomander is dry, thread color-coordinated ribbons through the center channel to make hanging loops.
Pomanders can be placed in closets to impact sweet scents to your clothes. Try hanging a "spicy" pomander in your kitchen, or a "citrusy" one in the bedroom.
One sweet, rich fragrance mixture for rolling pomanders is made of allspice, cinnamon, clove, orris, musk oil, and sandalwood oil. Other combinations you may want to use with pomanders are:
* orris and sandalwood with lavender oil
* coriander, allspice, calamus and tangerine oil
* tonka, cloves, vanilla and musk oil
* rosemary, angelica, bay and pennyroyal
* anise, licorice, cinnamon, tonka, oak moss and cinnamon oil
* frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood and musk oil
At Christmas, display your pomanders in a bowl or basket with tree ornaments that shine and contrast. Smaller pomanders -- made of lemons, limes, and tangerines -- are usually light enough after they have dried to hang on a tree. Tiny kumquats can be strung on florist's wire and shaped into scented wreaths and garlands.
Scented Christmas Tree Ornaments
Scented Christmas tree ornaments can be created in several other imaginative ways. Small cornucopias, baskets or boxes folded from wrapping paper can be used to hold fragrant potpourri. Hang sachets from the tree or make them into holiday mobiles. Shape or mold scented play dough into ornaments, or roll it out and cut fragrant gingerbread men.
Pine cone ornaments can be used like pomanders. They are simpler and faster to make. Dip the cone into white glue and then into a pomander rolling mixture. Allow this to dry before painting white glue on the upper tips. Dredge them in clear glitter ("diamond dust") for a frosted snow look. Glue a pearl bead to the top of each cone and attach a gold thread to hang the ornament. You can also string miniature pine cones for garlands. These fragrant pine cone decorations will give your tree a truly natural look.
Traditionally, Christmas is the time for ornaments, but with a few alterations you can make ornaments appropriate for other seasons as well.