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How to Make a Christmas Pomander

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by Lindsay Law (subscribe)
I'm a working mum writing about life in Edinburgh (and anywhere else we go) with two curious, adventurous, and imaginative children. Visit my blog at Follow me on Twitter: @LinzerLaw
Published November 18th 2012
Christmas has never smelled so sweet
Pomanders need to cure for at least 4 weeks, so if you start now you'll have them ready just in time for Christmas. The origin of the word is pomme d'ambre, or amber apple. It is a ball of perfume that will scent your home with a wonderful Christmas fragrance, reminiscent of mulled wine and warm spices.

A picture of a pomander in a box. Source: Wikipedia

Many people will be most familiar with these as oranges studded with cloves, which are a traditional Christmas item seen in European homes. They make beautiful and sweet-smelling Christmas decorations, and are a very easy activity for children to join in with.

To make one pomander, you will need:

A medium-sized thin-skinned orange (you could use any citrus fruit like satsumas, lemons, or limes, but oranges work best)

1/2 cup whole cloves (make sure they still have the heads on)

1/2 cup orris root powder

2 tablespoons cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon ground nutmeg


Box lined with tissue paper

Ribbon (if hanging)


Use the toothpicks to make holes in the skin of the orange. This is easier than trying to push the cloves straight in. You can either make a decorative pattern, or you can simply cover the whole of the orange with cloves, leaving small spaces in between them. Once all the holes are done, poke the cloves in. Then mix all the powders together and roll the orange in them. You need to cover as much of the skin as possible in between the cloves.

Then pop your orange in the box and tip the remaining powder over the top. Close up the box and put in a warm, dry place and store there for about 3-4 weeks. Check it occasionally to make sure it is drying out.

A finished pomander, decorated with cloves. Source: Wikipedia

Watch out for mice! They love pomanders (the ones we made at primary school were ruined when the mice got into the cupboard and nibbled away at them).

Once the pomander is ready, it will feel hollow and lighter than before. If you've made more than one you can display them as a centrepiece in a bowl, or you can hang one or more from your Christmas tree.

Wrap them twice round with red ribbon and hang so that you can enjoy the beautiful sight and smell of a traditional Christmas pomander.
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Your Comment
Hi Lindsay. I know of Satsuma plums, but what variety of citrus also has a satsuma variety? thanks, Elizabeth
by e_law (score: 2|425) 2556 days ago
Hi there... Satsumas usually are available around Christmas time in the UK... we got them in our stockings.... over here they are called Manderins....regards, Shelley
by shell (score: 1|10) 2556 days ago
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