History of Pomanders

Clove-studded fruits, also known as pomanders, have been used for hundreds of years. Pomanders are round, fragrant containers or objects that were worn in the middle ages to ward off odor and disease.

Modern pomanders are fragrant decorative spheres such as orange clove pomanders or flower pomanders. Oranges studded with cloves are the most common combination of modern pomanders, but other fruits and spices can be used to alter the aroma. Apples, pears, lemons, and limes are common fruits used in making pomanders. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and rosemary are other spices frequently paired with fresh fruits for their pleasing aroma.

Cloves are the unopened flower bud of an evergreen tree.

Cloves are an herb. They are the unopened flower buds of a species of evergreen tree native to Indonesia. Clove oil is comprised mostly of a compound called eugenol. Eugenol is responsible for the clove’s distinctive taste, smell, and properties.

Cloves have been used for various applications by humans for thousands of years. Cloves have been used as deodorizers, spices in foods and drinks, toothpaste, medicinal purposes, insect repellants and even in some cigarettes.

Clove-studded oranges and other fruits became popular in Europe in the 1800s as Christmas decorations because of their availability, ease of use, and pleasing aroma. In Jewish tradition, clove-studded apples were used to ward off feelings of faintness during the Yom Kippur fast. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, last longer than other fruits and can be preserved for years by coating in spice mixtures (powdered cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and either orris root or sandalwood oil) and/or careful drying.

Cloves are used in cigars, medications, and toothpaste.

Fruit-clove pomanders are still a favorite holiday tradition. They are a quick, simple activity for all ages with a nostalgic look and warm, pleasing aroma.  By using different fruit and spice combinations, pomanders can be used year around. The combination of lemon and fresh rosemary are often use as a natural air freshener for summertime use. Many people hang fresh or dried citrus slices in kitchens or closets as natural air fresheners. Decorating fruit pomanders is also a great way to foster children’s imaginations and hone fine motor skills using natural and safe materials!