By Beth Trissel
For gift giving, fund raising, or just plain fun, consider making fragrant potpourri. Begin by drying rose petals, an essential ingredient. Other flowers such as bachelor buttons, asters, straw flowers, and statice add color. Any blossom that dries well can be used. Mints, lavender, and lemongrass are all excellent herbs for fragrance. Save the peelings from citrus fruit. Cinnamon sticks are a nice touch.
Additional scent comes from manufacturers who sell potpourri supplies. Order ground orris root, lavender blossoms, and essential oils. Sachet bags can be made from circular scraps of fabric, such as gingham, all tied up with colorful ribbons. Decorative jars also make attractive holders. Baskets filled with aromatic sachets are an appealing presentation if fund-raising is your goal.
Here are some potpourri making directions from my experience and the book, Potpourri, by Ann Tucker Fettner. After you’ve collected and dried an ample quantity of blossoms and herbal leaves, mix in your other ingredients. Use a large bowl, not plastic, but ceramic or pottery. To hold the scent, you will need a fixative, often orris root. Generally, you use a tablespoon of a fixative for every quart of dried material. Add the spices you’ve chosen––cinnamon bark broken fine, rubbed mace, ground cardamom seeds––by sprinkling them over the petals and fixatives. If you like, add the crushed citrus peel, maybe some crumbled vanilla bean, and mix.
The ingredients must be absolutely dry or the blend will molder. To all of this, add your favorite essential oils, rose, lavender, geranium, or tincture of musk or amber. Experiment with different blends. Don’t combine all the oils in the same batch. Phew! That would be rather overwhelming. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
When you’re satisfied that the mixture is well blended, let it age in a crock for several weeks. Don’t have a crock? Brown paper grocery bags will do. Store the mixture out of sunlight in an airy corner or attic. Stir occasionally, then package prettily, and enjoy.
©2007 Beth Trissel
By Beth Trissel