Making Orange Pomanders for the Holidays

There is nothing like the smell of oranges and cloves! A bowl of oranges studded with cloves smell like the holidays. Growing up, we often made orange pomanders. It helped that we lived in California, where oranges are often at their best in December.

Now that we have our very own orange tree in our back garden, making orange pomanders is a tradition every year.



A bowl filled with these oranges, studded with cloves, with a few sprigs of evergreens tucked in, smell heavenly! And..Orange looks so amazing with my antique French and English Blue & White dishes, too. It’s a win-win.


See what I mean? This photo, above, is actually one I shot a while ago when a new scent of our very popular Luxury Logo Candles came into the shop, but you can see how pretty they look, in a small antique Delft strawberry drainer, or a huge bow. They always look great, and smell delicious!


The word “pomander”comes from the French “pomme d’ambre.” Many scholars interpret this phrase as “apple of ambergris,” because ancient pomander recipes used ambergris. Some insist the phrase means “apple of amber” or “golden apple”. Expensive, and rare citrus fruits were exchanged long ago during the holidays for good fortune. So here’s how to make orange pomander balls


How to Make Orange Pomanders

It’s easy, gather your oranges and cloves, and begin creating beautiful designs!

  1.  Wash and dry your oranges.
  2.  Poke cloves into oranges, you can use a skewer to make a small hole first if the skins are extra thick.
  3. Place cloves into the orange in patterns, classic, traditional patterns are spirals, and geometric designs.
  4. Once you love how they look, place all of them in a paper bag. Close the bag, and leave in a cool, dark and dry spot.
  5. The cloves are meant to draw out the juice of the oranges, and they should shrink in size somewhat.
  6. You can shake your oranges in a zip-lock bag filled with some powered orris root to help them dry well. {I get it at health food stores}
  7. Open the bag every few days to check on your pomanders.
  8. Some of my friends place a ribbon around the orange and “hang” them in a closet to can try that too!


Some may get “moldy” during the process, hoping not, but if that happens just get rid of that one. If you keep the bag closed, and it’s in a dry environment, it shouldn’t be a problem.


Enjoy these! They look so pretty stacked on a French Compotier, or a cake stand.


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10 thoughts on “Making Orange Pomanders for the Holidays”

  1. For those of you using orris root, shake the oranges in a zip lock bag, but then put them back IN A BROWN PAPER BAG!

  2. These are so sweet, Lidy. I’ve made them a few times, limes as well (they are really festive at Christmas). I didn’t know you needed to dry them. Can you tell me how long?

    Thanks so much. These are wonderful pictures!


  3. Oh Lidy I love these so much! Have made dozens and dozens over the years as gifts and also to sell at the Christmas market. I stud the whole orange with cloves. Oris root makes the orange more resistant to going mouldy – I toss the oranges in this powder inside a paper bag and gently shift them around them every day, for about four weeks. Then they are completely dry, quite shrunken, and smelling of heaven 🙂 A velvet ribbon adds the perfect finishing touch X

  4. I love the designs you made on the oranges too. I may have done this a long time ago, but I sure want to try it again. I can almost smell it now!

  5. This is wonderful! I bought my cloves about a week ago. I didn’t know that I was supposed to put my oranges in a bag. I always stud the oranges with cloves and then put them out immediately. How do you know when to display the oranges?

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