Spicy potpourri recipe

Written by    Last updated: August 30, 2007

If you have an abundant flowering garden, you can use this easy‐to‐make recipe to give your rooms a fragrant atmosphere throughout the year…

If you have an abundant flowering garden, you can use this easy‐to‐make recipe to give your rooms a fragrant atmosphere throughout the year…

What is potpourri?

It is a mixture of flower petals, leaves, spices and fruit, preserved in a bowl or pot and used to scent the air. Favourite ingredients include roses, lavender, verbena, geraniums, rosemary and bergamot. However, any flowers or leaves that keep their scent after drying can be used. Start organising your potpourri in the spring and add to it throughout the flowering season. You will need clean storage jars that can be tightly sealed to preserve the scents.

Preparing the flowers

The flowers should be picked early in the morning of a dry day, after the dew has evaporated, but before the sun is at full strength.
Strip the petals from the flower heads and lay them to dry in the sun, spreading them out so that they are not touching each other. For rose petals, trim away the white area from the base of each petal.
Allow the petals to dry for around 3 hours. Then mix them in an open bowl, adding a pinch of both salt and saltpetre to each handful.
Let the mixture stand for 2 to 3 hours.
Put the petals into a storage jar and add the fixative (see the recipe below) in the proportion of 25g (1oz) to each eight handfuls. When you have used all the petals, seal the jar tightly.
Add more petals as they become available, resealing the jar afterwards.
The mixture should remain slightly moist. If it dries out, sprinkle on a few more pinches or salt. When the jars are full, stir the contents again and empty them into bowls to put on display.

Make your own potpourri fixative

Traditionally, musk, civet or ambergris were used as fixative, but they are expensive, so you can make your own with the following recipe:

25g (1oz) ground nutmeg
25g (1oz) cloves
25g (1oz) allspice
115g (4 oz) ground orris root
3 lemons: extract the juice and grate the rind

Mix the ingredients together and allow them to stand for a few hours.  You can further enhance the scent by adding a few drops of oil of geranium or oil of bergamot or spirit of lavender.

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