Clove studded oranges are a classic holiday craft. People having been making these decorations out of citrus, herbs and spices for centuries. Holiday decorations made from natural materials like fruit, herbs and evergreens are making a huge comeback. Make these amazing smelling orange pomander balls with your kids for a fun winter day activity.
What is a clove studded orange?
A pomander ball, from French pomme d’ambre, or, apple of amber, is a fancy term for an orange decorated with cloves that make your home smell amazing for the holidays. DIY pomander balls can be hung as ornaments, used in garlands, or arranged as a part of a festive holiday centerpiece
Medieval herbalists used pomanders—mixtures of fragrant, dried herbs in cloth bags or perforated boxes—to ward off illness or bring strength and good fortune. The pomander was worn or carried in a vase, also known by the same name, as a protection against infection during the plague or merely as a useful article to modify bad smells.
What are they used for?
Today, pomander balls are usually a lot simpler; most consist of an orange or other citrus fruit studded with cloves and dusted with other spices. People like to make them at Christmastime and use them to decorate their home or tree.
How long do orange pomander balls last?
About 1 week
Your finished pomander balls will only stay fresh for about a week in a bowl at room temperature. You can extend their life by refrigerating them at night. After a few days, however, you will probably begin to see brown areas around where the cloves have been placed. You can preserve the orange balls by dehydrating them. Read on below for the instructions.
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Supplies to make clove studded orange pomander balls
- Oranges (I used small Christmas clementines)
- Ribbon or twine
- Cloves (buy the whole dried cloves and not the clove powder!)
- Cut an 18″ piece of twine for every orange.
- Criss-cross the twine round your orange and tie in a bow. You may need to use a tack to hold it in place.
- Use a or a toothpick to make a hole in your orange, then push in a clove. Then stud cloves all the way round.
- Carry on pushing in cloves until your whole orange is covered in a pattern you like.
- Make patterns and once you are satisfied you can display them in a bowl or hang from your tree.
I like using the small clementine’s that are at the store around Christmastime. They are great if you are working with children because they can fit in their hand easily and the skin is softer so you might not even need a toothpick to make holes before you place the cloves in. If you plan to preserve your pomanders using the instructions below, it is a lot faster if you use small oranges or citrus.
- 1/2 C cinnamon
- 1/4 C ground cloves
- 2 TBS nutmeg
- 2 TBS orris root powder
- paper bag
- Food dehydrator
- To prepare them for drying, place a single finished pomander in a paper bag and add a couple tablespoons of the special spice mixture.
- Close the bag and shake it gently while holding onto the pomander inside in order to coat it well.
- The orris root powder will help preserve the pomanders.
- If you have a dehydrator, use it to dry the pomanders at medium heat (105°-115°) until hard.
- The cloves will act as wicks and help draw out the moisture from the fruit. Using a dehydrator is wonderful because it will fill your home with the sweet, spicy scent!
- If you don’t have or don’t want to use a dehydrator, you can simply leave the pomanders to dry in the paper bag in a cool, dark, dry location.
- Check the pomanders daily and add more of the spice mixture. Give the bag a gentle shake. Allow the pomander balls to dry for 2-6 weeks. If you see any mold starting to form, compost the pomander.
- The pomanders are ready when they are dried up and feel light in weight. They should sound hollow when tapped.
- Once dried shake off any excess spices.
- Display your pomander during the winter holidays.
- After the holidays, they can be stored in a closet where they will help repel moths and add their wonderful scent to your linens and clothing.
- Over the years, you can refresh their scent occasionally with a few drops of clove or cinnamon essential oil.
Try making pomanders with other types of citrus fruit.