Here’s an idea for a different sort of craft project. Scent your home with the aromas that are traditionally associated with fall! Making potpourri with dried fall naturals is a terrific way to preserve the beauty and color of the season.
Homemade potpourri is a simple project, but you need to allow several weeks for the scent to take hold. Once it’s finished, however, potpourri can be stored in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag indefinitely. Make up a big batch this season, and store it for use whenever you need a reminder of the beauty of fall.
Make sure your leaves and naturals are completely dried out. If you’re using plant sprigs or other “green” materials, hang them in small bunches upside down in a cool, dry spot in your home for several days to two weeks to make sure no moisture remains. Residual moisture will cause your potpourri to rot, which is definitely not the effect you want!
If you want to use pumpkin seeds in your potpourri, clean them off completely and dry them out by spreading them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the seeds for about an hour, turning every ten minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the seeds inside for another hour before removing and cooling completely.
Essential oils and fragrance oils can be used to add extra scent to your potpourri. Essential oils are natural extracts from plant-based products, while fragrance oils are man-made commercial scents. Try scents in orange, cinnamon, pie spice, apple, pumpkin, and woodsy tree scents to capture the aroma of the season. You can even mix oils for a unique, individual scent.
Oils used for scenting potpourri can spoil containers intended for use in the kitchen. Since the oils themselves can be toxic, make sure your containers or bags can be discarded or reused for another batch of potpourri later. Likewise, keep the oils and finished potpourri away from children and pets.
You can add pretty much any natural item you’d like, as long as it’s dry and free of bugs or larvae. Try to accumulate a wide assortment of different colors, sizes, and textures for an interesting and pretty potpourri. Whole, dried spices add both visual interest and scent.
Fall Potpourri with Dried Stuffs
1. assortment of small, dry fall leaves, flower petals, and sprigs
2, handful of dried bay leaves
3. small pinecones and acorn lids
4. dried pumpkin seeds
5. cinnamon sticks
6. whole cloves
7. ground orrisroot (available at health food stores)
8. essential oil or fragrance oil in your choice of fall scent
Break the cinnamon sticks up into small pieces. In a very large bowl or pail, combine leaves, flower petals, sprigs, bay leaves, pinecones, acorn lids, pumpkin seeds, broken cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Set aside.
In a container not intended for cooking or food storage, place 3 tablespoons of ground orrisroot for every 4 cups of dried naturals used. Add a few drops of essential oil or fragrance oil to the orrisroot and mix well. Orrisroot is a fixative, and will hold onto the scent of the oil much longer than the natural ingredients will. Check the strength of the scent, and add a few more drops of oil if needed. Continue until desired scent is reached.
Place the mixed naturals into zippered plastic bags or airtight containers. Distribute the scented orrisroot evenly among the bags, and stir or shake to combine well. Seal the bags or containers and store in a cool, dry place for at least six weeks. Shake the potpourri every few days to distribute the scent evenly.
After six weeks, your potpourri is ready to pour into a decorative bowl or vase to scent your home! It also makes a beautiful, homemade gift when placed in a clear bag and tied with a pretty ribbon.
Tip: When putting your potpourri out on display, you can add a mixture of dried fruits to the bowl. Try dried apple rings, banana chips, and ginger strips for added color and scent. Do not add fruit to the mixture while still sealed in bags or containers, however. Even though the fruit is “dried”, it can still contain enough moisture to cause mold in the bags.