from the October 1985 "Drying Times "

by Barb Moody

For over a century, spicy pomanders have been used to decorate houses and have been hung in closets to repel moths. Traditional pomander balls are clove studded fruit that have been rolled in a spice mixture and dried. While oranges are most commonly used, lemons, limes, apples or hard pears can also be used. The original pomanders were probably made from apples since the name comes from the Old French "pome d’embre" meaning apple of amber. The amber probably refers to ambergris which was originally used to scent the pomander. In Medieval times, small pomanders were worn around the neck as protection against odor and infection.

Pomanders make lovely gifts and holiday decorations. Small ones can be used as tree decorations or can be wired into wreaths. Larger ones can be hung around the house decorating rooms or entry ways. Your dehydrator makes an ideal place to dry pomanders and the fragrance will fill your house with the sweet, spicy scent.


Select firm fruit. Pierce the skin with whole cloves. It may be easier to first use a sharp object such as an ice pick and then push the clove into the hole. Space the cloves about a clove head apart. The fruit will shrink as it dries and cloves placed too closely will be pushed out. Roll studded fruit in the Special Spice Mixture (recipe below). At this time you many wish to wire all the way through the fruit to provide a hanger for the finished ball. Run a long U-shaped wire through the fruit and twist at top forming a loop. If you wish, also twist a small loop at the bottom of the U_shaped wire. This provides a small loop that can be used to hang mistletoe, a tassel or other decoration. Many people prefer to dry pomander as is and add the hanger after drying.

Place in dehydrator and dry at medium heat (105°-115°) until hard. The cloves will act as wicks and help draw the moisture from the fruit.

Special Spice Mixture

Mix ground spices in a shallow bowl.

The dried pomander can be decorated in a variety of ways:

I like to put an eye screw onto the top of the fruit and attach a long loop of velvet cord. Then I hide the screw by wiring around it a crown of small netting tufts and wiring in small silk poinsettias or silk holly leaves.

Balls may also be wrapped in netting and tied with satin ribbon. Or, simply loop with ribbon and tie.

Make a fragrant "Kissing Ball" by hanging a piece of mistletoe from the decorated pomander. Hang in a hallway or entry way.

Pomanders may be kept for years. Freshen occasionally with a few drops of clove or cinnamon oil. After the holidays, they can be stored in a closet where they will help repel moths.