Orange – Pomanders (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , January 4, 2009 9:26 pm

The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project is orange.  Unlike some more premeditated weeks, I really had nothing in mind when I chose this theme.  An orange-colored collage maybe?  But having missed last week’s project, I felt like trying something a bit more adventurous.

In a moment of restless insomnia, I suddenly thought about pomanders.  Do you remember the fragrant old fashioned drawer fresheners made from fruits studded with cloves?

I googled “orange pomanders” and found quite a few different sites with instructions.  Most required orris root powder (the dried and ground root of a certain iris) as a preservative and several weeks of drying in a cool, dark place.  Interesting fact tangent:  if you are a gin connoisseur and drink Bombay Sapphire Gin,  you are drinking orris root (as well as lots of other stuff).

Since I had neither orris root (who has that in their pantry?), nor time for the curing, I was happy to find one site that claimed that an oven could also be used to cure the fruit.  We don’t have orris root, but we do have an oven!  We can do this!

As usual, I have a hard time sticking to a “craft recipe” precisely and often venture off into often messy “improvements.”  So, loosely inspired by the oven-curing method, this is how we made ours:

You will need oranges, apples, or lemons.  We used an orange and a clementine.  The clementine was a bit of an experiment.  Would it make a nice, smaller pomander – or would it shrivel and wither away?  I tried to choose a clementine with a tightly fitting skin rather than the loosely-skinned ones that one gets sometimes.

You’ll also need whole cloves, a skewer to poke holes in the fruit, as well as masking tape and ribbon if you want to make a hanging pomander.  If you want to add extra fragrance, gather together some ground cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  Some people also add ground ginger.

Our major original modification involved honey.  So you might want to have some honey and a brush on hand too!

First tape off the parts of the fruit where the ribbon will be.  That way you won’t put cloves in the wrong place.

Use the skewer to poke holes where you want the cloves to go.  Make sure the holes don’t touch or the cloves will fall out.

Of course my 6 year-old son enjoyed impaling his clementine.

Push cloves into the holes.  Traditionally, pomanders are completely covered with cloves, but I was feeling stingy with my expensive cloves and thought that this first time we’d just make some stripes.  Less expensive bulk cloves might be better for a full-clove pomander.

I didn’t really want my three year-old playing with a sharp skewer, so I gave her a few grapes to push cloves into.  She loved this activity!

Once the cloves were in, we mixed some cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg on a plate and tried to roll the fruit in it (be sure to remove the masking tape first).  Of course it didn’t stick well, so that is where the honey came in!

We brushed just a very light coating of honey, then poured on the spices and rolled the fruit around in it.  It stuck quite nicely then.

I put our uncured pomanders on a glass pie plate and into a 170 degree oven (the coolest temperature of my oven) for an hour.

After an hour, not much had happened so I upped the temperature to 225.  I left them in for about another hour at that temperature.

I wish I could upload the smell for you all.  Mmmmm….heavenly, and very “Christmassy.”  NOTE TO SELF:  Project for next Christmas or Winter Solstice perhaps?  If you are trying to sell your house, make sure you have a pomander in the oven.

When I took them out, they looked fairly dry, but not too pretty.  My oldest daughter said:  “I thought they were supposed to look nice!?”  Did we wisely speed up the curing process, or overdo it? Time will tell.

Well, I guess my daughter was right. They really weren’t that attractive, but at least they smelled good.

We dressed them up with some ribbons, and then put them in a paper bag in the garage to dry out some more. They are supposed to be quite dessicated and light by the time they are properly done. Stay tuned!


Here are a few other pomander-making links:

How to Make a Spicy Orange Pomander

Oranges and Yule

Making a Pomander


As usual:  if you did an orange Unplugged Project this week, please link to your post in Mr. Linky below.  If not, then please do not link, but enjoy reading the projects in Mr. Linky.  If you would like to learn more about how to join in the Unplugged Project, then please read more here.  Hope to see you soon!


Next week’s Unplugged Project theme is as random as this week’s was.  It will be:


Have fun!


11 Responses to “Orange – Pomanders (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. We made pomanders this year and it was really fun learning about the history…We will have to try one of the methods you listed to mix things up next year.

  2. KateinNJ says:

    I picked up some cheap cloves at a dollar store..I keep them with the craft stuff and do not allow them to touch my “good’ cloves for crafting. My Mom always made orange/clove pomanders when I was young, but I don’t think she cured them..she stored them in the fridge at night or something.
    Hmm..weird. Those grapes would be lovely simmering in a pot of water on the stove. ;-)

    KateinNJs last blog post..Green Up Saturday

  3. Meg says:

    We did a rhyming project and balancing monarch butterflies (loosely translated!). Thanks for the grape idea! What a wonderful compromise!

    Megs last blog post..Unplugged – Orange

  4. kristen says:

    I LOVE the smell of pomanders. This is the first christmas we didn’t make any. Maybe we will soon! We made clementine lanterns this week.

  5. My son made a pomander during a children’s program he attended at Colonial Williamsburg when we were there for Christmas. They wanted the kids to make something Christmasy, but Colonial people didn’t do much Christmas decorating. They had the children make little bunches of greenery and pomander.

    Crescent Moons last blog post..Unplugged Challenge:Orange

  6. […] activies, unplug your kids | Tags: Color, Orange, unplug your kids We decided to participate in Unplug Your Kids! Its been a long time since we had and the theme was fun so here is what we did for ORANGE: We […]

  7. Bobbie says:

    we made a pomander for one of the unplugged challenges back in october.. fruit challenge maybe? anyway we rolled it spices and it stuck because we did cloves over the whole thing.. we put in the cupboard for 6 weeks.. and boy was that thing light after.. it mummifies or something the website I used said.. but as it is humid here I was still a bit iffy and we cracked it open last week and it was mouldy inside… freaked me out.. it was gross.. so not sure if our climate it right for pomanders.. but they do smell nice

    Bobbies last blog post..THE MR

  8. Jenny says:

    What a fun project. CJ would love poking the cloves into grapes (I’m with you on the sharp skewer!). I’ll have to remember this one for the next time she asks, “Mama, what are we going to do today?”.

    Jennys last blog post..HOW Long Has It Been?!

  9. Miriam says:

    I am so happy to say that we finally did one of your projects! It was a blast, thanks!

    I love the idea of cloves in grapes. I made our pomander after the girls went to sleep because I didn’t want to deal with little hands and skewers. I know just when to make grape pomanders, too!

    Miriams last blog post..Baby Carrier Review

  10. Tasha says:

    It smells great, but I can’t smell it unless I hold it to my nose. I’m going to put mine in the oven and hopefully the smell will travel through the house.
    Also, I used a toothpick to poke small holes in my orange. Maybe that would be safer for kids to use.
    .-= Tasha´s last blog ..Winster – game site =-.

  11. […] Create orange pomanders for our clawfooted […]

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