Think Yuletide decorations from nature and handcrafted gifts to welcome the New Year, then gather family and friends, adults and children alike, around a table, sip hot cider, and make pomanders. These clove-studded fruits, dating from medieval times, came to Europe from the Middle East.
Traditionally the surface of the fruit is tightly covered in cloves, and once dry, the pomanders last for years. That said, I have seen contemporary arrangements using partially clove studded oranges and even grapefruits. These are short-lived but attractive variations on an ancient craft.
You can use apples, lemons, limes, oranges, even tangerines if the skin is smooth and thin. Select small fruit, and inspect to insure it’s intact, with no bruises or nicks. Use a sturdy toothpick, a bamboo skewer, a large embroidery needle or a thin knitting needle to punch holes in the fruit and insert a whole clove in each hole. As you go along, you can weave metallic thread among the cloves or use narrow ribbon or braid to embellish the pomander, either inserting the cloves through the ribbon or placing cloves along the edges. Tie a bow at the top or make a loop for hanging, if you like.
For best results, plan to finish what you start before moving on to something else. I speak from experience. Last year I started a lemon, divided its surface vertically into quarters with an open weave gold braid and filled in the spaces with cloves. Next I added a row of cloves between the original rows. That’s when I ran out of time and set the project aside, not realizing the fruit would begin to dry and harden immediately, making coming back later and adding more cloves out of the question. The exposed skin turned brown as the lemon dried but my first pomander remains fragrant and firm after a year.
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