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» Make a Closet Pomander

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During various eras and settings, bathing was something that was considered unhealthy (or something that only the wealthy did). The Middle Ages and Renaissance are two perfect examples. So, people had to find another way to cover body odors at least to some degree. The pomander was one solution to this problem. It also indirectly aided in protecting clothing and skin from various insects.

Pomander takes its name from Latin pomum de ambra‚ meaning ball or fruit and amber. This designation refers to the early form of pomanders, which resembled balls of fragrant herbs and spices. Originally this type of pomander was made out of dirt, clay, and aromatic resins. Pinches of this mixture went into elaborate jewelry cases that were designed for wearing or carrying. Some years down the line, the base of clay or dirt was replaced with soaked sponges, and then finally cloven fruit.

During the Victorian era pomanders were popularized. It was practical and had the perfect romantic appeal (the Victorians were enamored of the Middle Ages). At this juncture, however, the aromatics mixed with mothballs in closets, and sometimes caused sickness. So we‚ll avoid that tact. Making the cloven version of a pomander, however, is something anyone can learn to do. It’s a fun project for children, especially for gift giving.

I was introduced to cloven fruit in a historical recreation group. In some cases they used it for flavoring hot ciders and wine. In others, they used it as a portable mouth freshener (taking a clove before giving a kiss to a lady fair!). Nonetheless, the pomander’s basic function as an overall portable aromatic remained.

To make your own begin with choosing an orange, lemon, or lime. Take a toothpick and make a pattern of holes all around the fruit. Make sure these do not touch each other otherwise cloves will fall out as the fruit dries. Next, push whole cloves into each hole you‚ve created (note: the denser the clove coverage, the longer lasting the pomander will be.

Once that’s one, dust the fruit with sandalwood oil (about four drops per piece of fruit). Traditional spices for this purpose include allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. It’s important at this juncture to leave the pomander in a cool, dry location for about 5 weeks. The perfectly dry pomander will sound hollow when you tap on it. Afterward, wrap it in a ribbon so you can hang it where most desired.

These can also be used as holiday decorations on a tree or mantel


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