B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Pomanders Make Fragrant Gifts

Pomanders are easy and fun and make great gifts that bring the scent of the garden indoors to brighten cold winter days. Today, most pomanders are ornaments made of glass, ceramic or fabric filled with a mixture of fragrant herbs and spices. But, originally, pomanders were made from pieces of ambergris, a fragrant, waxy substance passed from the intestine of the sperm whale.

The word pomander comes from the French " pommed ' ambre, " meaning " apple of ambergris. " The ambergris was placed in decorative cases of gold, silver, ivory, or wood and worn around the neck or waist to protect against infections and mask unpleasant odors.

The pomander container can also be made of whole fruits, such as apples, quince and citrus. Whole cloves, spices -- such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger -- and powdered orris root (check specialty coffee stores or spice shops for bulk quantities) add scent and ornament.

To make a pomander, punch several holes close together into the fruit, using a meat skewer or ice pick, just long enough to accommodate the clove stem. Push the stem ends of the cloves into the holes until the fruit is completely covered with the studs. Blend the powdered orris root and spices in a bowl and roll the studded fruit in the mixture, then shake off the excess, and hang to dry in a warm, airy location for a week or two.

To prepare the pomander for hanging or gifting, tie a ribbon around the fruit like a gift box, making a bow at the top, or enclose in a square of mesh fabric, tied off with a bow at the top.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox