Looking for a cheap and easy homemade gift? You need not look any further than your fruit bowl for a burst of inspiration. Apples and oranges are great as a snack, or as part of a recipe, but what you might not realize is that they are also the perfect ingredients for a bag of homemade potpourri.
If you've seen the prices of commerically made potpourri, you might think that the process of making potpourri is difficult and costly; however, this just isn't the case. Most blends of potpourri can be created using ingredients that you already have on hand, thus keeping the cost to a minimum.
What to Use
The first step in making potpourri is to select your ingredients. Apples, oranges, lemons and grapefruits are all great options, and they will dry nicely. To prepare your fruit for the potpourri, you will need to cut it into thin slices, taking care to keep the skin on the fruit.
Next, you will need to select your floral materials. Roses and lavender are among some of the most commonly used flowers since they are known for their natural fragrance and ability to retain color.
For a personalized blend, feel free to experiment with flowers and leaves from your own garden. As you attempt to dry different varieties, you will learn what works best.
Once you have selected your ingredients, it's time to start the drying process. Since there are several methods for drying, you should pick what works best for you, and consider your time frame.
Drying Your Materials
Perhaps the quickest method for drying fruit is to heat it in the oven. Begin by preheating your oven to 200 degrees, and then arrange the fruit slices on a cookie sheet. If you have a cooling rack, you can arrange the slices on the cooling rack, and then place the rack on top of the cookie sheet. This will promote more even heating of the fruit, and prevent the slices from sticking to the sheet.
Once the oven is heated, place the cookie sheet in the oven, and allow it to cook for several hours. The drying time will vary depending on the thickness of the slices. Just keep checking on the progress from time to time, and be sure to flip the slices halfway through to prevent them from curling.
Leaves and flower petals can also be dried in the oven; however, they will dry in a matter of minutes. To prevent burning, be sure to watch them the entire time.
Flowers can be fastened in bunches and hung to dry upside down. When possible, dry these bundles in a cool, dark place. Sunlight will cause the flowers to fade.
Once all of your ingredients are dry, it is time to add a fragrance. While some flowers give off their own aroma, essential oils are typically used to give a long-lasting fragrance to potpourri. You can find a wide selection of essential oils at craft stores. Often, they are located with the soap and candle making supplies.
Once you have chosen a fragrance, you will need to incorporate all of your ingredients together in a glass bowl. Using a glass container is very important, since certain essential oils are known to eat through plastic.
Add to 6 to 12 drops of essential to your potpourri, one at time, taking care to mix the potpourri gently, but thoroughly between drops. When the last drop has been added and mixed, store your potpourri in an airtight container for 4 to 6 weeks to allow the oils to penetrate all ingredients.For the best results, mix the ingredients every few days.
If you want to make potpourri, but you are short on time, it's not a problem. After you have added the oil, place the finished potpourri in a glass jar, and add a decorative label. Then when you give it to a friend, you can tell them when the potpourri will be ready for its debut.
Wrapping the potpourri couldn't be easier. Simply fill a plastic sandwich bag with potpourri, and tie it with a piece of raffia.
Classic Potpourri Blends
|Citrus Blend||Apple Pie||Holiday Blend|
|Grape Fruits||Cinnamon Sticks||Pine Cones|
|Lemon Zest||Rose Leaves||Holly Leaves|
|Orange Oil||Apple Oil||Pine Oil|
Flowers are delicious to eat and, when prepared properly, non-toxic.