DIY on a Dime: Make a Citrus Pomander

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When I was growing up, there was a lemon tree growing in the backyard. It produced hundreds of lemons each year that we made into lemonade and lemon pie. I even ate a few raw. They were Meyer lemons, so they were sweet enough to eat without too much of a pucker.

Invariably each winter I would craft a pomander or two from the fruit.

In medieval times a pomander was a ball of perfumes to protect against infection or alter the aroma of the surrounding air. I’m thinking next hockey season, I might just pack one in my bag!

The modern form of a pomander is a citrus fruit studded with cloves. You can make one from any citrus fruit. I’ve always used lemons, but a lime or orange would be just as easy. The finished product is a small ball studded with spices that smells nice as it freshens drawers and cupboards. The cloves preserve the fruit inside so that it does not rot or mold.

How to Make a Citrus Pomander

Making a pomander as a gift is super easy and fairly economical. Just be sure to buy the whole cloves in bulk. You’ll need quite a few. They will be cheaper bought in a large container from Costco or Smart and Final than in the small jars in the grocery spice aisle.

I’ve seen some sources suggest that you roll the studded fruit in a spice mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and orris powder. That’s not the way my mama taught me, so I can’t speak to that.

You can wrap the finished product in a bit of lace or wrap a ribbon around it for hanging. A pile of pomanders in a decorative bowl is also pretty.

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • lemon or other citrus fruit
  • whole cloves
  • toothpick, fork, or other pokey thing to make holes in the fruit

How to make a lemon pomander:

  1. Poke holes in the lemon.
  2. Stick whole cloves in all the holes.
  3. Allow the fruit to dry for several weeks.

Have you ever made a pomander?

DIY on a Dime graphic, with text overlay reading Great Gifts.

DIY on a Dime

This is part of the DIY on a Dime: Great Gifts series. For more easy and frugal gift ideas, check out the list.

For other holiday craft ideas, be sure to stop by the Holiday Home Linky Party featuring Crafts at Centsational Girl on Thursday!

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  1. I have made many pomanders from oranges. This year I made three from limes. Each had plenty of cloves and they smelled heavenly. After about a week, they all started to turn brown and got extremely soft and mushy. I had to throw them in the compost bin. I’m not sure why it happened. Any ideas?

    1. I’ve read that they will last longer if you treat them in ground spices and orris root powder. I’ve never done it personally, but that would be a good thing to explore in future.

  2. I can’t believe I literally had a spare lemon and thought “What should I do with this?” then wound up waiting too long and had to throw it out. I had whole cloves too. *crying*… next time I will try this. It’s a much better use for the items, and so seasonal! Thanks for this tutorial.

  3. I use to make these with my mom at Christmas. We would roll them and then to make them more festive we would wrap them in red ribbon and place them in a glass bowl in the middle of the table. I had totally forgotten about them until I read this, I bet my daughter would love reawakening this memory from my childhood with me.

      1. Yes we did. I vaguely remember placing them in a clear plastic bag shutting it with a twist tie and shaking spices onto them actually. Hmmm….does that mean I am older than ziplock bags???

  4. If you are giving as a gift, do you make them several weeks in advance and wait for them to dry out? Or do you make them and give them right away?

    1. Making them in advance is best, but I’ve done it only a week ahead of giving. Usually I’d wrap it in lace and tie with a ribbon.

    2. My grandmother made me one for my sock drawer when I was little. I’m now 66 years old and it STILL smells great!!!!!