Many of you may have made the classic orange-studded-with-cloves holiday pomander at different times of your lives. My mom and I used to make them for the winter holiday fairs in Nevada City where we would sell them along with botanical wreaths that we created from wild harvested botanicals that grew in the mountains around us, as well as from many organically grown dried flowers which came from our 1/2 acre of land which we cultivated near Camptonville near the north fork of the Yuba River.
In the quiet of our renovated turn of the century home we would sit surrounded by the wonderful and sublime beauty of nature, with our oranges before us, a pick to puncture holes in them, and bags of aromatic cloves to insert into the wholes. It was a labor intensive but enjoyable work to totally cover the oranges with the cloves, and then role them into our special blend of powdered orris root, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. They were then set to dry, and during this time released their delectable perfume throughout the house.
This type of pomander is of relatively recent introduction, appearing first in England during the 17th and 18th century:
"By the 17th and 18th century the decorated orange stuck with cloves was often mentioned as a Christmas or New Year’s custom. In his Christmas masque, Ben Jonson wrote, “He has an Orange and rosemary, but not a clove to stick in it.” A later description of New Year’s in England mentions children carrying pippins and oranges stuck with cloves in order to crave a blessing for their godfathers and godmothers."
see Pomanders: Golden Apples of the Sun
The tradition of making the orange/clove pomanders migrated to the United States from England during Colonial Times and as oranges were rare and expensive items when available at all, apples, which were readily available were substituted for them with a similar effect.
Please note that the recipe is a perfume blend, not a preparation to be taken internally.