Homemade potpourri for every reason
Make your home smell naturally great with these tips.
Friday, December 30, 2011 - 14:27
BEAUTIFUL BLENDS: Countless mixtures make great smelling potpourri. (Photo: goaliej54/Flickr)
Potpourri makes a wonderful perfume for your home and is also a great gift. It is relatively easy to make and can freshen your living space with plants and herbs from your own garden. Naturally fragrant components blend to create unique, seasonal or exotic scents. Here are a few tips and resources you can use to create your own potpourri.
Knowing what ingredients you want in your potpourri is one of the delightful challenges in finding the perfect blend. There are three components of potpourri, and they include the fixative, the fragrance and the filler. Fixatives are great scent absorbers that hold onto the potpourri's different smells and make the blend last longer. Good fixatives include oak moss and orris root. Fragrances include essential and fragrant oils added to the mixture to enhance its perfume. And lastly, fillers are flowers, herbs, woods, leaves and other components that either enhance the scent of the potpourri or simply the look of it.
Flowers from your garden, including roses, geraniums, lilacs, lavender and marigolds among others, can add sweet scents to your potpourri. Orange, lemon and lime peels add familiar and recognizable scents to your blend.
Herbs are great as well and can include allspice, bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, thyme and sage. These too can be grown at home — even in small, indoor containers that are perfect for the city dwellers or renters. Wood shavings are classic ingredients that give the mix a solid, rich undertone. Great woods to use are cedar, cypress and juniper.
The most important thing to do once your ingredients are collected is to dry them. Doing this preserves the ingredient's natural perfume. When it comes to flower petals, some extra care needs to be taken to prevent them from becoming brittle. The slower you dry petals, the more supple they will be.
To dry your herbs and flowers you can simply tie bunches of the ingredients together and hang upside down in a warm, dry place. You can also secure a sheet of cheesecloth across an open space, such as between two chairs, and place the ingredients on top. Then, cover the ingredients with a second layer of cheesecloth. This method allows for the ingredients to be dried above and below simultaneously, speeding up the drying process. Or, another option is to line a baking sheet with cheesecloth, place the ingredients on top, and place in the oven on the lowest temperature with the door open.
One thing to keep in mind when drying is that the ingredients will shrink. To compensate for this, use four times as many ingredients for how much potpourri you intend to make. Put simpler, for every cup of potpourri you want, use four cups of ingredients.
Once you have all of your components, it is time to put them all together. There is no potpourri recipe that can't be altered and still smell terrific, so the recipes found in these resources can be taken for what they're worth or be used to get some fresh ideas.
Bohemianrevolution.com has assembled a collection of potpourri recipes for all sorts of seasons, including a citrus-rich blend reminiscent of summer and the tropics, as well as a pinecone recipe perfect for winter.
Other sites contribute to a few simpler recipes that allow more freedom to create your own unique mix.
Some tips to get the best result are to never use metal bowls to hold or mix the potpourri. Wood or plastic bowls are the best to stir the mixture while baskets, enamel or ceramic bowls are the best to hold it. Additionally, it is advised to combine crushed or powered spices in one bowl, oils in another, and then add them to the mixture.
Fresh scent, fresh gifts
Potpourri makes a great gift and adds wonderful, natural scents to your home. Using homegrown ingredients allows you to "recycle" your garden and use the freshest ingredients. And if the final product isn't worth it already, experimenting to find the perfect blend can be an enjoyable activity with family or friends. The potpourri you make can reflect the climate and season, making the combinations limitless and the gifts that much more unique.
Photo: A writer afoot/Flickr; lisa cee/Flickr
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