Most of the work involves pushing whole cloves into the skin of the fruit, so I find that after a while my mind just clears of all my worries and by the end of the day I have wonderfully fragrant pomanders to give as gifts or use in my home.
Now over the years I have discovered that this is good project for children as well, especially on a rainy or snowy afternoon when they are cooped up in the house. It seems to have the same calming effect on their holiday jitters.
Materials for 1 Pomander:
1 orange (lemons and limes work as well)
5 - 6 ounces of whole cloves
2 tablespoons of ground orris root (optional - available at health food stores)
yarn or ribbon
tissue paper or cheese cloth
The first thing to do is select your fruit. Because pushing the cloves through the rind can be a chore, I always select oranges with thin skins.
In a medium to large sized bowl mix equal amounts of nutmeg and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of ground orris root. Orris root comes from iris roots and has long been used as a fixative. It will help the fragrance of the spices last longer, but it is not a critical ingredient. If you can't find it, you can omit it from the mix. Set the bowl aside.
Now you are ready to insert the cloves into the orange. Small children or people with sensitive hands may find it helpful if "starter" holes are pierced into the orange with an ice pick first. I also like to wrap the tip of my thumb with a bit of masking tape so that it is easier to push in the cloves. I often cover the orange with cloves, but you can make patterns as well by arranging the cloves in circles, lines or spirals. The fruit will shrink as it dries so space the cloves about 1/8" apart.
Once you have created your design, roll the orange in your spice mixture until it is fairly well covered. Set the pomanders on wax paper to dry. The drying process can take 3 or 4 days so I like to put them somewhere out of the way, but check on them periodically.
Once the pomanders are sufficiently dry, wrap them in cheesecloth or tissue paper and tie the top with a bit of yarn or ribbon with a cinnamon stick and rosemary twig tied into the bow. In addition to the clean scent, rosemary is symbolic of remembrance, so it is a nice touch if you are giving the pomanders as a gift.