One of my favorite winter activities is making pomanders: clove-studded, spiced, cured fruit that smells heavenly for years.  Really, years.  They are lovely for decorating and also make nice gifts for the holidays, and also make nice talismans for health to have around your home.

The word “pomander” comes from the French “pomme d’ambre,” or “amber apple.”  In the middle ages, the royalty and nobility carried elaborately constructed metal pomanders which they filled with scented resins (such as ambergris) and spices.  These helped cover up the smell of the ages, but also were believed to ward off the smell of death and protect the wearer from the plague.


The pauper’s version, and the one of which I am fond, is made by taking a citrus fruit (orange, lemon, lime, etc.), studding it with whole cloves, rolling it in spices and powdered orris root (a natural preservative derived from the root of the iris plant), and then drying it — either over time in a dark, dry place, or in an oven on low heat.  *TIP* — if your pomander is losing its potency, try tossing it in the oven to warm for a while.  The heat will revive the fragrance, and waft it merrily through your house.

I once wrote a Shakespearean-style sonnet based on the concept of the pomander, but it was terrible!  So instead of plaguing you with my shoddy poetry, here is a video of the first steps of the pomander-making process, made slightly less boring (hopefully) with a little help from Mademoiselle Françoise Hardy.


After the studding process is complete, I like to roll my pomanders in some combination of cinnamon, powdered clove, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and orris root before curing.  Smells DE-Licious, and it smells like the holiday season!