Aromatherapy: How to Make Fragrant Potpourri

What You'll Need
Ceramic bowl
Pestle and mortar
Lidded glass jar
2 tablespoon dried root powder of orris
2 drops essential oil like rose oil
1 strip dried lemon peel
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup lavender
1 stick cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon cloves
1/2 cup lemon verbena
1/2 cup leaf geranium leaves
1/2 cup dried rose buds
Paper bag

Potpourri is actually a French word that means a "rotten pot". This word gained mass acceptance as the French initiated the practice of using fermented mixtures of various flowers, stems, spices and petals to create a fragrant brew. This mixture eventually came to be known as potpourri. Anyone who has some patience and access to flowers can make a fragrant potpourri at home. The concoction that is created through the process of fermenting the plants can be used as a natural air freshener and for aromatherapy. Essentially, all potpourri creations lead to the formation of scented oils but it is the use of secrete additives of herbs like mint and specific petals that makes a potpourri worthy of being used as an aromatic oil. 

Understanding Potpourri Ingredients

Parts of flowering plants like flowers and leaves along with some specific stems are integral to potpourri preparation. It is vital that you dry the flowers before using it for potpourri. Not drying flowers thoroughly means that the brew will retain excessive moisture, which in turn can adversely effect the fermentation.

Spices like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon are the traditional choices for most potpourris. However, now spices like coriander, vanilla pods, anise and cardamom are being widely used for creating fragrant oils that are prepared particularly for aromatherapy. Ensure that your spices are freshly-ground and not bought in the powdered-and-packed form from the market. This ensures a stronger aroma in the oil. 

Fixatives are used to add texture and to create the prefect pH environment for the brewing ingredients. These substances have natural compounds to absorb moisture and reduce acidity. Most common fixatives include gum benzoin and dried orris root. Allspice and juniper berries are added for making the potpourri thicker.

Contrasting additives like dried citrus peels and grapefruits are commonly added to make the potpourri’s fragrance sharper. They help to bring out the true essence of floral scents and make the fragrance last longer. 

To add fragrance to your potpourri include province roses, lavender, lilac, mimosa, lime blossom. For color try hibiscus, heather, calendula, peony and pansy. To add bulk include lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon thyme and sweet basil.

        Making Traditional Household Fragrant Potpourri

        Preparing Potpourri:

        Step 1: Dry all the petals, buds and flowers until their outer surface looks a bit flaked

        Step 2: Using the scissors, cut the petals and flowers into thin strips. Mix the dried petals with the rose buds and lavender in a bowl. Slice the lemon peel into small pieces and add it to the bowl along with the verbena and geranium.

        Step 3: With the pestle and mortar, grind the cloves and allspice berries together till a thick paste is formed. Split the cinnamon stick into small pieces. Add all the spices and the ground ingredients into the bowl. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the mixture with orris root powder and then add rose oil.

        This is your raw potpourri that needs time to gain fragrance and texture

          Curing Potpourri

          The freshly-prepared mixture in the bowl has to be tied into a paper bag and sealed. This can be done by stapling the bag. The bag should be kept in a dry, warm place for a few days. Ideally, it should be cured for two weeks without any sunlight. However, you should stir the potpourri every three days. At the end of two weeks, the potpourri is prepared and it can be transferred to small glass containers.