One of the things I love about the holiday season is the smells especially the kitchen smells. In order to enjoy those delightful scents every day I dried some fruit and made my own potpourri. It is amazingly easy and you don’t need any special equipment to do it. An oven works just fine if you follow a few simple guidelines I’ve listed for you here. I packaged small batches as party favors for our New Years Eve guests that I think they will enjoy during the cold that hangs around in Texas through February.
You need: Oven, Cookie sheets, baking cooling racks, dish towel, fruit, spices.
Ingredients: Apple, orange, lemon, lime, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, herb sprigs
- Select the fruit you want in your home made potpourri and slice relatively thin. I have an inexpensive mandolin I purchased at Walmart for under $10 that works fabulously.
- My oven has two racks and will hold two cookie sheets so I slice just enough fruit to fit on two cookie sheets at a time. One orange, one apple for me. When this batch is dry I will slice up another orange and a lime or two. Go ahead and rub some lemon juice on the cut surfaces of the apple to eliminate the ugly brown coloring.
- Turn on your oven to the lowest temperature. Mine is 170° F which a little too warm for drying, but I’m going to tell you how to overcome that issue.
- Place a cooling rack in the cookie sheet and position a single layer of fruit (should not be touching or overlapping) on the cooling rack. This will allow a flow of air to reach both the top of the fruit and the bottom.
- Put the cookie sheets with the sliced fruit in the oven. Now…to lower the temperature and increase the air flow for drying, roll an old dish towel in a fat roll. Close the oven door gently using the towel to keep it ever so slightly ajar. You can see in the photo I place my towel along the side where the seal of the door is. Now, do use caution here, you don’t want the towel coming close to the heat source of your oven (coils or flames).
- After about 4 hours check the fruit for dryness. The oranges take on a stained glass appearance and the apples become stiff. Neither should be brown. If you leave the citrus fruits in too long the fruit takes on a black appearance…not too attractive!
- Assemble your potpourri in some plastic baggies with a couple slices of each fruit plus a Tablespoon of whole cloves, a cinnamon stick and a sprig of herbs. I used rosemary sprigs from my garden. I didn’t bother to dry them before adding them to the bags because they air dry on their own without any help from the oven.
- Add a tag if you’re giving as a favor or gift. The potpourri should be covered with water and kept warm on a very low heat to release that wonderful aroma.
P. S. I used baggies and boxes, but you can use anything to package your potpourri. Try jars, left over party cups, cloth bags, cheesecloth… or what ever. Be sure to share with me and the other readers your great idea for packaging in comments.