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How to Make a Pomander

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The fragrant smell of Pomanders immediately make you think of the holidays.  One of my earliest memories is visiting some family friends and while the grown ups were having coffee, I wandered off to follow a wonderful scent.  I discovered an unusual prickly looking ball hanging from a door frame that smelled so spicy and warm.

 I didn't see, or smell another for years after that, but I never forgot it and when I celebrated my first Christmas in my own home, I decided to learn more about this prickly thing, and find out how to make it!  

A Little History

The first pomanders were made using ambergris, a fragrant substance from sperm whales.  Pomander comes from the French "pommed ' ambre", meaning “apple of ambergris" and was placed in a ball and worn around the waist to mask odors.  As time passed the name pomander was given to any fragrant ball that could be worn in this fashion.  Ambergris could be expensive and difficult to get, so they were often made with apples or citrus as they still are today.  We may not need to wear them around our waist, but like in times past, they would still make very nice holiday gifts.

These fragrant balls can last over a year and make your house smell wonderful.

Follow this recipe to make your own pomander.


  • 1 thick skinned orange, lemon, lime or apple
  • 1 ounce whole cloves
  • toothpicks (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12" fabric circle (optional)
  • small piece of ribbon or string (optional)

Push the sharp ends of the cloves into the fruit with the big ends sticking out. You can use a toothpick or ball point pen to make holes for the cloves, if needed.
Make sure the cloves in the fruit are close enough together to be almost touching. Continue until the fruit is completely covered.
MIX the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger in a bowl.
Roll the pomander in the bowl to cover the fruit with the spices. Shake the fruit and gently blow away the extra spice.
Put the pomander in a brown paper bag or tie it into a fabric circle and keep it in a dark cabinet for 2 to 3 weeks until it is dried and has shrunk. Then it can be given as a gift or used to freshen a room in your house.

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