Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Making Homemade Potpourri
Part Two of a Two-Part Article
-Select a Fixative
A fixative “fixes” or holds and absorbs the scents of all the other ingredients. There are several fixatives to choose from. The easiest to use and obtain are orris root powder and gum benzoin.
Essential oils are found in perfumed flowers, leaves, roots, and even seeds. Perfume emitted from plant oils may be a citric, floral or a spicy scent. Bottles of essential oils can be found at most craft stores or purchased from specialty stores or catalogues that offer potpourri supplies. Essential oils most popularly used are: rose, lavender, orange blossom, ilang-ilang, jasmine, vanilla and patchouli. It’s a matter of personal choice when selecting an essential oil for your potpourri.
Measurements do not have to be exact when mixing all the components in potpourri. Although, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, such as, rose scented potpourri, refer to books on this topic -they will provide more exact measurements. So, for every quart of dried flowers, use about one teaspoon of fixative, and about six drops of essential oil. Adjust both of these according to the quantity of flowers you have available, then just follow these steps.
1. In a small bowl place spices (if they’re ground up), and your fixative. Add six drops of essential oil then thoroughly mix using your fingers.
2. In a separate bowl (larger) mix your flowers, herbs and whole spices (these are your dry ingredients).
3. Pour spices, fixative and essential oils into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Mix well to ensure that the oil, fixative and spices are evenly distributed.
4. Pour this mixture into an airtight container. Place in a dark place for about six weeks to cure. Shake the container daily, for the first two weeks. This helps distribute the scent, which needs to be absorbed, in all the components of the potpourri mixture.
By the sixth week the potpourri should be ready to display. The most common way to display potpourri is in a pretty bowl. Although another great way to enjoy the fragrance of potpourri is to wrap a vintage hanker-chief around a cupful. These pretty parcels can be placed in drawers to give them a refreshing scent or given as gifts.
There are many books available on making potpourri. Stop by a book store, drop in your local library or google the word “potpourri” to find information and resources. Also, make sure you check out the San Francisco Herb Company’s website. They carry hundreds of herbs, essential oils and a variety of supplies for making potpourri.
You probably never thought you could make something so fragrant and appealing from your very own back yard. The next time you’re pruning your garden save all your deadheads and make sure you harvest a few flowers, now and then, for homemade potpourri you can make with your kids.