Simmering Christmas Potpourri – Another Homemade Gift

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Simmering Christmas Potpourri Recipe

Simmering Christmas Potpourri

This is a great recipe to have simmering any time during the holidays.

1 lemon
1 orange
3 three inch cinnamon sticks
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup whole cloves
2 quarts water

Combine all ingredients except water in a clear bag or jar.

If giving as a gift, attach the following instructions to the jar:

Cut lemon and orange into slices or quarters. Combine fruit, spices, and 2 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer. Add more water as needed. Cover any left over mixture, refrigerate and reuse. Makes 8 cups.


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  1. Mari says

    OK – I’ve made it, and the smell is divine…..I might be a bit thick here, but how do I use it??!!!! I’ve got the juice reduced so it’s like a thickish syrup and of course all the fruit and cinnamon sticks and cloves etc – should I put it in a jar and mix some dried pine cones in it or something? :)

    • says

      So sorry Mari. I’m not sure if I am understanding you right or if the recipe was confusing. What you do is when you are giving it as a gift or saving it for later for yourself put the whole orange, lemon and the spices in a jar or container. Then when you are ready to use it you slice or quarter the fruits and add it all to the water to just slightly simmer all day. If it starts to get thick you can just add more water to it and keep simmering it for several days. You can also pour it in a jar and store in the fridge for awhile, pull it out add more water and simmer some more.

      All is not lost though if you have a bunch made up and in the water. You can just put it in the fridge and store it like I said. Let me know if this makes sense and is clear or if you have other questions.

      Also it wasn’t in the recipe but you can use dried orange and lemon peels if you want. You don’t need a dehydrator for this either. I just take and when I peel my orange I lay the peels on a plate or the counter and let them sit until they become dry and hard.

  2. Mari says

    Hi Jill

    It’s probably me being a bit thick!! I thought I’d make some so I could use it now, to make my house smell nice. I’m just not sure how I should use it, once I’d simmered the fruit in the liquid, or how it should end up looking. Do I have to simmer till all the liquid is gone, and I end up with just the quarters of orange and lemon, or do I use the liquid in some way afterwards? If I put it in a bowl so that the fragrance spreads round the room, wouldn’t insects and flies be attracted to it?!!! (You’re probably laughing your socks off here LOL!!)

  3. Mari says

    Just read your recipe again, and the very first line – is the idea to have it simmering on your stove, so that the scent wafts round your house?!!

    • says

      You got it. Just let it simmer slowly in a pan and add more water as it boils down and it will last for a long time. If you aren’t going to use it for a day or 2 just put it in the fridge in a container and then pull it out and pour it in a pan and simmer again. We have little mini like crock pots which we can simmer ours in too. I don’t think the flies will bother especially this time of year and in the summer I think the spices might help keep them away.

  4. Mari says

    Thanks Jill!

    I was just a bit confused – I didn’t know if I simmered it and then put it in a bowl, but then of course it’s the simmering that brings out the aroma…it’s almost made me feel like getting my Christmas tree out!

    I set it simmering again earlier when I was cooking the evening meal, and the smell was amazing….and so much cheaper than store-bought home scents, especially at his time of year when all the prices seem to go up!!!

    Mari x

    • says

      Don’t feel bad Mari. The first time Tawra showed me it I wasn’t sure either what to do with it because it was different from the usual dry you just set out.

  5. Mari says

    Well the wonderful smell makes it all worthwhile! I’ve now got it in a jar in the fridge, ready for next time I want to make my house smell like a home :) Love all the tips on here – loads of great ideas and even more in your book! xx

  6. Danni says

    I miss all the air fresheners I used to be able to I put all the ingredients together from this recipe my sister gave me in about three minutes and chose to slice the fruit. As I started to simmer it, within five minutes, the whole house was immediately filled with the most warm inviting scents of the holiday season…I didn’t have to wait an hour or so for the smell to arrive like the chemical simmer liquids available in stores. I opened my front windows and I can see people sniff the air as they walk by!!! thank you so much from a single mom of three on a very low budget.

  7. Nicole says

    I used the dried orange peel in mine when I make this. Also, I found a potpourri pot that you put the ingredients (obviously a smaller amount) and water in the top and put a tea lite in the bottom. I’ve left it in the pot for several weeks, just adding more water to it. The fragrance gets better each time you use it. (Don’t leave it in the pot without adding more water to it or without burning the tea lite for a while as it will get moldy –opps;)

  8. Char says

    This is WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. Next year I will be giving this as gifts instead of candles. It’s sooooo much better!
    Thank you again :)

  9. Barbara says

    Just a bit of a side note…..using tangerine peel smells exactly like a Balsam Fir Christmas tree….add that and it only enhances that wonderful aroma….thanks, Jill, for the recipe….almost gave away my little potpourri pot until I saw this wonderful recipe….Merry Christmas from Upstate South Carolina near the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains!

  10. Lauren says

    I’m not overly impressed with this potpourri…guess I was looking for something a little more “woodsy” smelling. I did add an extra cup of whole cloves and even a few tsp. of cinnammon as well as the cinnammon sticks but the smell was just too “citrusy.” Not a smell I associate with Christmas. However, I will keep searching. Thank you.

    • says

      All you have to do is add some pine needlees to it and take out some of the citrus if you want it more “woodsy” smelling. Also if you added the extra spices it would not be woodsy but more spicy.

    • says

      This recipe is our citrus recipe. So that is why it has the citrus smell kind of like the oranges with cloves in it that many people make at Christmas. We have other recipes with a more woodsy scent in Dining on a Dime because some like citrus others woodsy, some spicy and still others peppermint.

  11. Bea says

    I made this last week and loved it. It was on a Sunday and the house smelled so good. I do like Citrus Scents though and cinnamon and spice. It’s like something baking in the oven and so homey.

  12. Bea says

    I was thinking about citrus and Christmas and the reason citrus can remind someone of Christmas is because in the “olden days” oranges were a Christmas gift. I remember reading a Laura Ingalls book and how the children were so happy to get an orange at Christmas. We don’t know how good we have it these days. An orange for Christmas wouldn’t impress a lot of people these days.

    • says

      I know citrus use to be a real treat and the kids would get an orange, peppermint stick (or small bag of candy)and maybe a little toy. They usually only got 1 present and often it was a practical one. You are so right we have no idea how lucky we are.

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