This is part two of Alan Page’s latest post: The Pomander: A Brief History.
Essentially, the way to make an Orange Pomander has not changed since Tudor times.
The main ingredients are still a fresh orange, whole cloves and cinnamon, together with other spices such as nutmeg, allspice and orris root. Ribbon is used to hang the pomander, and other suitable decorations can be added. It is therefore still affordable by just about everyone.
To make an Orange Pomander you will need the following:
- 1 x medium/large think-skinned sweet orange
- 2 x jars of whole cloves
- 1 x level teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 level teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- A pinch of allspice
- 1m (40”) of ribbon, 15mm wide
- 2 gilt buttons or other decoration as required
- 1 cocktail stick
- Florist’s tape 20mm wide
- Strong sewing thread and strong clear adhesive
To make the orange pomander, first mark the orange into 4 equal quarters by encircling the orange with two lengths of florist’s tape. The tape should run from top to bottom of the orange, crossing at both “poles” at 90 degrees.
Now, using a wooden cocktail stick to prick the orange skin, stud the whole of the still-exposed orange peel with whole cloves, pushing each one well down. Do not position the cloves too close together, as the orange will later shrink as it dries.
It is usually best to complete one quarter of the orange at a time. When the exposed orange peel is completely covered with cloves remove the florist’s tape.
Place the spices in a small un-perforated plastic bag, and mix well together. Place the orange (which will be quite sticky from where orange juice and zest has leaked out while the cloves are being positioned) in the plastic bag with the mixed spices, and seal. Shake well to coat all the orange and cloves with spice, and allow the spice to fill all gaps and crevices.
Leave in the bag for at least 24 hours, turning the orange as often as you can, so that as much of the spice mixture as possible is taken up by the sticky orange.
After 24 hours, remove the orange from the bag, and dust off any loose spice. (The remaining mixed spice can still be used for cooking as, of course, it is still perfectly wholesome, although by now orange flavoured!) Wrap the orange in several sheets of tissue paper, and then put in a strong paper bag.
Put this in a warm position – such as an airing cupboard, a boiler house or suspended above an Aga – for 28 days to allow the orange to gradually dry out.
After 28 days the orange should feel quite dry – although it will actually continue drying out for several more months. Un-wrap the paper and blow off any loose powdered spice.
Use suitable strong decorative ribbon to encircle the orange, using the channels left by the florist’s tape to position the ribbon. Also use the ribbon to make a loop so that the pomander can be hung or carried.
Use a strong sewing thread of a suitable colour to add a few inconspicuous stitches to keep the ribbon in place.
Further decoration – such as dried flowers – are of course quit optional. In our present example two gilt buttons have been used (fixed in place with strong clear adhesive) to give a more masculine air to a pomander that Cardinal Wolsey himself might have been happy to carry.