Here’s how to make orange pomander balls, which will freshen your closets and home—or make a lovely holiday ornament for friends, family, and coworkers.
What Is a Pomander?
Medieval herbalists used pomanders—mixtures of fragrant, dried herbs in cloth bags or perforated boxes—to ward off illness or bring strength and good fortune.
The word “pomander” derives from the French pomme d’ambre, meaning “apple of amber”—a reference to the round shape of the object and the occasional addition of ambergris (an aged substance from the bile duct of a sperm whale). Strongly scented pomanders of ambergris were used in Europe during the time of the Black Death to (unsuccessfully) cover up and purify “bad air.”
Today, pomander balls are often a lot simpler; most consist of an orange or other citrus fruit studded with cloves and dusted with other spices. See our own recipe below!
Orange and clove pomander. Photo by Wendy Piersall/Wikimedia Commons.
How to Make Pomander Balls
- Take firm oranges and stud them with whole cloves.
- Be creative and arrange the cloves in diamond, circular, or other patterns. As the orange dries, it will release a delicate, spicy fragrance.
- For a stronger aroma, cover the entire orange with cloves, and then roll in a mixture of spices: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg, 1 tablespoon allspice, ¼ cup powdered orrisroot. Leave the orange in the mix for a week, turning once a day.
- To hang your 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.
- Or, you can tie red ribbon around your pomander for a festive look!
If you have cinnamon leftover, try making these Cinnamon Ornaments.