This is a wonderful way to scent your home the natural way. With just a few herbs and spices and some essential oils, you can create an aromatic blend that can be used simply as potpourri in a lovely basket or bowl, or added to water and gently simmered to release the beautiful scent throughout your home.
All of these ingredients can be found in your local market, your garden and at one of the on-line herb emporiums. My two favorite are San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Co. @ www.herbspicetea.com and Mountain Rose Herbs @ www.mountainroseherbs.com. They ship promptly and are surprisingly inexpensive. When ordering essential oils, be sure to order an eye dropper or two to disperse the oil, always sold in the 'supplies' section.
This is also an excellent way to use up out of date kitchen herbs and spices that you might have in your pantry. Feel free to substitute or add to the recipe to correspond with what you have on hand. I always save my orange peels, leaving them out in a bowl until completely dry, then storing them in plastic bags or containers, or you can buy these.
Always use glass bowls and enamel or stainless steel pans and utensils, as the essential oils can react with metals and plastics, causing pitting and permanent staining and can alter the scent.
Christmas Potpourri Simmer
1 large and 1 small glass bowl
small stainless steel or enamel saucepan
large covered glass dish or jar for storage
1 cup small or broken cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup whole allspice
1/2 cup whole cloves
1/2 cup cardamom chips, 1/2 cup star anise, 1/2 cup pine, balsam, or cedar needles, 1/2 cup coriander (any of these alone or in combination)
1 cup dried orange peel
1 cup bay leaf
1 cup mint
1/2 cup rosemary
1/2 cup orris root chips
15 drops cinnamon, cedarwood, or essential oil of choice (this should be chosen as your main scent)
10 drops balsam, fir, or similar essential oil
5 drops orange or bergamot essential oil
Begin by mixing the cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and/or star anise in the large glass bowl.
Add the orange peel, bay leaf, mint, rosemary and evergreen needles.
In the small bowl, mix the orris root chips with the essential oils, stirring well with a cinnamon stick. The orris root (ground Iris root) acts as a fixative, holding the essential oils in place so they can be dispersed evenly and allows the scent to last.
Add to the potpourri mix in the large glass bowl. Stir until evenly mixed.
At this point you now have a lovely potpourri to use as-is. But for those occasions when you want to scent the whole house, you can create a 'simmer'.
Add 1/3 cup potpourri to 4 cups water
(a good way to use that pretty antique pan you've been saving for a special occasion)
Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer, replacing water if necessary as it evaporates.
This mixture can be refrigerated and re-used several times.
Keep in covered dish or jar when not in use to preserve the gorgeous scent.
This is an easy way to scent your home for much less than those expensive plug-ins or scented candles that give me a headache with their artificial scents. There is no comparison to the heavenly aroma of natural herbs and spices.
During these dark and cold days, put a little Christmas simmer on the stove as you go about your daily chores. Not only will it add a lovely scent to your home, but it will cheer you up with it's natural aromatherapy.