Monday, December 20, 2010

Tutorial: How to make a Pomander: Easy holiday fun with your kids!

If you want the full back history of pomanders, then click here for the wikipedia explanation.

For everyone else, I will just say that as kids we made these, mostly to be used as ornaments or decorations, and that I always loved the smell. I was trying to think of something fun to do with the kids, that wasn't too expensive, and would help us get in the holiday spirit, and this is the project came to mind.

I was inspired, partly by the Fred Meyer ad this week, which had the mandarin oranges on sale, right next the the half price spices. (Yes, my brain works like that. The two main ingredients are on sale, so maybe we should do this.)

Here is what you will need to get started:
Whole cloves
Mandarin oranges
(or other citrus fruit)
Something sharp to cut/poke with (We used the skewers we use for making barbecue shish-ka-bobs in the summer.)
A baking pan
Preheated Oven (200 degrees)

I also suggest having some little bowls to put the cloves in and a tablecloth that can easily be washed after the project is done. (Read here that I mean: juice is going to get on the table cloth, so you really do not want the beautiful lacy one that your grandmother gave you on the table when you are doing this project.)

Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to put aprons on the kids as well.

Since we were intending for these to be decorations, which do not need to last beyond New Year's, we were pretty lax in how we decorated these. Some of the instructions I have seen tell you to keep the holes you poke approximately 1/4 - 1/2 centimeter apart. With 8 and 10 year-old hands, we did not attempt that. I let the kids each have a skewer, which poked a hole the perfect size for inserting a clove. The kids made a variety of designs.

Two things to note at this stage.

1) This gets juicy. You may want to warn your kids that they do not want to poke towards their eyes, or get their eyes too close, and that having a way to easily wipe or wash hands (like baby wipes or a damp towel) can be important if you have kids who are picky about their fingers being sticky.

2) The holes "disappear" after the skewer has been pulled out, especially if the rind of the orange is fairly thick. Making a few pokes with the skewer, and then filling them with cloves worked far better than trying to do the entire decoration worth of pokes, and then going back and finding all of the holes to insert the cloves into

Each of the kids did about five oranges in half an hour. We used the entire five (5) pound box of mandarins, and almost the entire 1.12 ounces of cloves. If the kids had wanted more elaborate or clove intensive designs, we would have run out.

After the designs were finished we put them on the baking sheet. I preheated the oven to 200 degrees, and we tried to space the oranges out so they weren't touching.

We baked the oranges for an hour. When they came out the smell was wonderful, just like I remember from when I was a child. They took about an hour to cool down to the point where the juices weren't oozing out when you picked them up.

When I looked up ideas online, there seems to be a heated debate about whether you need to do the cooking part in a paper bag or not. As far as I can tell, you either need to let it cure in the oven like we did, or cure in a paper bag for two weeks. Since I didn't have two weeks, we opted for the oven. Curing in the oven had the added benefit of making the whole house smell wonderful while they were cooking. If you want to join the "purists" and use a bag while cooking them, just be aware that a few comments about trying this method included warnings about bags catching fire. That was enough to steer me away from using a bag in my oven.

This is Joshua with his now cooled Orange Pomander. My kids decided they just wanted to have them as "yummy smell" decorations, and not turn them into ornaments, but it would be easy to add some ribbon (make it like a basket to hold the orange with a loop at the top) and make ornaments to hang on your tree.

**A quick reminder that it isn't too late to get in on the drawing for the button purse. Just go here, and tell me about what you are doing to serve this season!!


Kathy Haynie said...

Yum! I used to make these when I was a little girl, too.

Donna M. said...

I remember making these in Girl Scouts (couldn't make them at home, Dad couldn't stand the smell). I should try these some time with my nieces.