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December 10, 2008 > Pat Kite's Garden: Holiday Pomander Gifts

Pat Kite's Garden: Holiday Pomander Gifts

In this age of thinking green, a delightful gift for friend and family is a pomander ball or two or three. What's a pomander ball? Basically it's a lemon, lime, or orange studded with cloves, dusted with fragrant spice, then dried. This scented pretty goes nicely in closets or on a holiday tree. It's a fun project for children to do too. Let's look at more specific information.

You will need a fresh, firm, thick-skinned orange, lemon, or lime and a large container of cloves. With a fork and/or toothpick, poke small holes around the fruit, hither and thither, not in a straight line. Place the cloves as close together as possible. Don't make the holes too big or too deep. Now poke the stem portion of the cloves into the holes. The cloves should not sink in and disappear. They are supposed to show on the outside. Try your best to completely cover the fruit with cloves. Now sprinkle the fruit thoroughly with allspice, allspice and cinnamon, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, or easy pumpkin pie spice. You can also roll the studded fruit in the spice mixture. Then, if you can find one, poke a hairpin into the center of the fruit. Leave a little bit sticking out so you can attach a pretty ribbon as a hanger. As a note, all this must be completed in one sitting for the best pomander results.

Allow the fruit to dry on an open wire rack in a clean dry cool place for about two weeks. The fruit will dry until it is really hard. Drying shrinks it, keeping the cloves securely in place. If you didn't find a hairpin, tie a pretty ribbon around the pomander ball. Leave a little loop so you can dangle the ball. Or you can wrap the pomander ball in colorful netting, tie with gold ribbon, and add tiny holiday bells. They make truly festive room decorations. The pomander balls I've made hold their scent for a year, longer if kept in a drawer.

Back in medieval days when street smells were omnipresent, nasal sensitive folk would employ pomander balls on a belt to keep away the vile aroma of street dump and unwashed people. More prettily, the scented pomander was used to scent closets and clothing storage sites. The word "pomme" means "apple" in French. Originally fruit pomanders were made with apples, and you can try this too. The custom traveled to the United States. When railroads took over national travel, and citrus fruits could reach all parts of the country, the longer-lasting lemon, lime and orange fruit base took over. I've read you can use crabapples to make tiny pomanders, and will try it this holiday. You too. Have a delightful season of good spirits, and see you next year in 2009.

Pat Kite

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