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December 11, 2012 > Pat Kite's Garden: Pomander Ball gifts

Pat Kite's Garden: Pomander Ball gifts

By Pat Kite

I love making Pomander Balls. This is a fun project for children's groups, or youngsters with parents and grandparents. The aromatic pomanders get displayed around the house, infusing my castle with the scents of whatever ancient spices I have in my cupboard that need a life's purpose.

You really don't need much effort for this project. I use medium-size oranges, but have tried apples and once, a large lemon. Aside from fruit, you need whole cloves... oodles of them. For the least expensive cloves, buy them by the bagful in markets catering to the multi-ethnic community.

To insert the cloves into the orange, use a large needle or the tines of a fork. Pierce the orange all the way around, with the holes no more than one-fourth the way around. Now fill a small bowl with whatever spices you have too much of. Ideas include cloves, powdered cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, marjoram, grated orange peel, and/or pumpkin pie spice. Roll the pierced fruit in the spices, and place on a saucer. The orange is now covered with dark dots. Now insert the cloves. I just do this with my fingers, since I have gardener's calluses. But if that seems much, find a thimble and use that.

The tops of all the cloves should touch, with the fruit surface entirely hidden. Recently I saw a photo where decorative pins and beads were interspersed with the cloves. This is a chance to investigate what's at the bottom of your sewing box. To complete the pomander ball, you need to stick a bobby pin or preferably a hairpin, in its top. Through this, thread a pretty holiday ribbon. This will eventually serve as a hanger. The final step is to let the newly constructed pomander ball totally dry out. This will take about two to three weeks. The pomander is ready when it is rock-hard to the touch. As the fruit shrinks, the hairpin and cloves become firmly embedded.

Pomanders were an early type of aromatherapy. In use since the 13th century, they continued to be popular during the times when folk threw leftovers and sewage into the streets. With the lack of sanitation came all sorts of diseases. People thought the stink was the direct cause of the epidemics. The general belief was the pleasing pomander scent could get rid of the disease in the air.

We still have aromatherapy today, just because pleasing scents tend to make us feel happy or soothed. One pomander, apple or orange, will perfume a medium-size closet. Smaller pomanders, from a lemon or lime, will perfume a large bureau drawer. My pomanders have remained scented for several years. They do look pretty too! Try it, just for season fun.

Happy Newest Year

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