How to Make Pomanders With Apple Pulp

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After you learn how to make pomanders you can give them as gifts or sell them.

This year, when you put up the winter’s supply of apple
products, why not get the jump on your Christmas gift
gathering (or holiday profitmaking) at the same time? To do
so, you can simply spice, shape, perfume, and dry any
leftover pulp into creative, fragrant “pomander sachets” to give to your family and friends or to sell at fall
bazaars, fairs, or gift shops that specialize in unique
homemade items.

What Are They?

Most of us think of pomanders as clove-studded oranges or
apples that have been rolled in spices and dried. In fact,
the word itself is derived from the French pomme d’ambre, meaning “apple of amber,” which–in
turn–refers to ambergris (the original scent used in
pomanders and still the base of many perfumes).

The current high price of whole cloves and fresh
fruit–as well as the time required to completely
cover one apple or orange with the tiny spices–can
turn the creation of old-fashioned pomanders into a
cash- and labor-intensive project.
However, learn how to make pomanders using my method  and you can
actually consume the tasty fruit, then fashion dozens of the long-lasting, aromatic,
and useful gifts from the leftover waste!

Make “Seconds” Into “Firsts”

If you don’t have your own apple trees, perhaps you can buy
“pick your own” (look for inexpensive windfalls) fruit from
a nearby orchard, or locate a produce outlet that sells
apple “seconds.”

Last year, for example, I was able to buy half a bushel of
very high-quality “culls” from a rural market for $1.75,
and the varied flavors, when cooked and blended, made for
exceptionally tasty and colorful applesauce and jelly. In
fact–although your results may differ, depending upon
the juiciness of the fruit you use and the amount of water
added when cooking–four baskets (or $7.00 worth)
provided me with 100 eating apples, 20 quarts of
applesauce, 6 pints of apple butter, 35 half pints of jelly,
8 quarts of fresh juice, and 200 apple pulp sachets to
market (wholesale) to my herbal outlets. Better yet, the
sweet-smelling little globes sold out within a week or two,
bringing in an average of 50¢ each for a total of $100!

Preserve the Reserve

Orrisroot, a “fixative,” is a vital pomander ingredient because the substance absorbs the fruity, spicy blend and
preserves it for many years. It’s made from European iris
roots, and–along with essential oils–can
usually be obtained from your pharmacy. If not, most herbal
mail order businesses carry such items, as well as ground
spices that are less expensive and of higher quality than
those the grocery usually offers.   

The Pomander Recipe

To make a batch of recycled sachets, measure out 4 cups of
the drained apple pulp left in your colander or food mill
(or simply turn the leftover cores into pulp) and
stir in the following ground spices: 1 heaping tablespoon
of cloves, a little less than a tablespoon of nutmeg, 1 1/2
teaspoons of ginger, and 3 tablespoons of orrisroot. (If
you can’t obtain powdered orrisroot, simply grind whole
pieces of the fixative in your blender.)

When the above ingredients are thoroughly
combined, shape the pulp into balls. Then make a blend of 6
tablespoons of powdered orrisroot, 10 to 12 drops of
essential oil (I use oil of rose, cloves, ambergris, or
patchouli), 1/2 cup of ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of
ground cloves, and roll the balls in the resulting
mixture until they begin to feel dry. (This recipe, which
may be halved or doubled, will yield about 50 pomanders.)

Now, wrap your scented spheres in squares of organdy (or
any other porous fabric that can be easily pinked with
shears to produce attractive edges) and hang them up to
dry. If you prefer to adorn them with fabric later on, you
can let the pulp balls rest in a large glass or plastic
container on top of any leftover spice mix, but
don’t allow them to touch each other. Roll the
globes around periodically to expose all sides to the air
and to the spices.

I prefer to wrap the aromatic apple scraps in organdy right
away, so that a minimum of the spiciness will be lost
during the drying process. Also, I’ve found that the oil of
the still-damp spheres permeates the fabric, adding to the
strength of the finished pomanders’ scent.

Next, I tie the cloth squares with thread or string, and
then loop them on a long ribbon to hang from the fireplace
mantle (where we already have nail holes used to secure the
family’s Christmas stockings). The pungent fragrance given
off by the drying sachets perfumes the house, and the
colorful fabrics seem to give our home an aura of Christmas
long before it’s actually time to decorate for the holiday.

Package Makes Perfect

Within a week or two, the pomanders will shrink slightly
and be dry enough to store in plastic bags until you’re
ready to wrap them for gifts or package them for sale. As a
finishing touch, I cover the little packets with matching
squares of net, secured with bows of satin ribbon (which I
buy wholesale by the roll from a local floral supply house
at the cost of 5¢ a yard).

The pomander sachets can be packaged in plastic zip-lock
bags from your grocery store, three or five to a bag. A
descriptive label (you can type one up and photocopy it if
you make a large number of the gifts) will add to the
product’s appeal. Explain on your label that
the sachets are a variation of colonial pomanders and can be used in closets, drawers, or chests to
perfume and to help mothproof your clothing, linens, or

If you’re going to market the pomanders, a printed display
card that gives suggestions for using the bright little
balls will also help promote sales. I add a sign that
reads: “Use to decorate your Christmas tree, wreath, or
packages … hang in a cluster from the ceiling light … or give as fragrant stocking stuffers, party favors, or
hostess gifts.”

Your recycled apple pulp creations will give you and others
many pleasurable moments of aromatic delight over the
years. And the scent can even be revived in the distant
future, if need be, by adding a few drops of your favorite
perfume or oil … making the pomanders essentially
timeless gifts.