I remember making orange pomander balls as a small child. My mother would buy a bag of oranges and a large jar of whole cloves. Then we would sit around the kitchen table and listen to Christmas music while decorating our oranges. It was a labor-intensive but enjoyable task to totally cover the oranges with the cloves and then roll them in a blend of powdered orris root, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. The house smelled divine!
The tradition of making the orange/clove pomanders migrated to the United States from England during Colonial Times. As oranges were rare and expensive items, apples were substituted with a similar effect. By the 18th century, a pomander was more often than not an orange studded with cloves and other spices. These made for popular gifts during Christmas and New Years. Many people make this type of pomander today in order to scent their homes and clothing.
You will need:
- Several plump, round navel oranges
- A few toothpicks or a wooden skewer
- A jar of whole cloves
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 1 tbsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp orris root
- A citrus zester
- Mix the ground spices together in a small bowl or plastic bag. Set aside.
- Use a corner of the citrus zester to make a few designs in the skin of the orange.
- Poke a row of holes in the orange with a toothpick and push the cloves into the pre-made holes. This will prevent your cloves from breaking and keep little fingers from being hurt.
- When you’ve finished with the whole cloves, roll the fruit in the spice mixture. Store in a cool, dry place, still in the spice mixture, until dry. Make sure to roll the fruit in the spice mixture each day.
- To hang your orange pomander, thread a large needle with string and run it through the orange; make a knot at the bottom and a loop at the top.
You can group your pomanders as a fragrant centerpiece or hang the smaller ones as ornaments on your Christmas tree. Hang a few of the larger pomanders in a window. Or set them around the house as natural air fresheners. Enjoy!