Pot-pourri is a very traditional aromatic accessory for the home and many recipes have been handed down through the generations. There are several ways to make pot-pourri. The oldest method is for a moist pot-pourri where layers of rose petals, spices and salt are arranged in a large crock and left to rot down for six weeks or more. The strength of scent is excellent but the visual appearance is not good (the salt bleaches out all the color in the rose petals). That is why traditional pot-pourri jars are closed, with holes for the fragrance to waft through.
A prettier finished effect is gained by mixing flowers and herbs with essential oils and a fixative, such as orris root. This is also a fairly lengthy method but the finished effect can be lovely, particularly if some flowers are dried with silica gel and placed on top for decoration.
As most of the projects here are for sachets or other items where the herbs are hidden away behind some fabric, the look of the finished pot-pourri is not of paramount importance. The main point is that the scent should be strong and long-lasting. When making small sachets it helps to use fairly small ingredients of an even size, so there are no unsightly lumps and bulges in the sachets. The best answer for this is to use small sprigs of dried herbs and flowers with a much larger proportion of fixative.
Many recipes call for powdered orris root, but I use cut and sifted orris or blue flag root instead, as I find the powder spoils the outward appearance of pot-pourri. However, as the recipes here are mainly for use on sachets, either powdered or cut orris root will do.
Many of the recipes here can easily be altered to suit whatever ingredients you have available. Once you have made several batches of your own pot-pourri you will become more courageous and want to experiment. It is easy to make up your own recipesjust keep to the basic guidelines on quantities of ingredients.
Orris Root and Oil Mixture
As a general note, I use a measuring jug when measuring out the various dry ingredients, unless they are measured by the spoonful. The orris root is best mixed with the essential oil first and put into a small screw-top jar to mature for a couple of days. If you are intending to make several types of pot-pourri, I would suggest you build up a collection of jars with different orris root and essential oil mixtures which you can use as you wish.
Mix the oil and orris root in the proportions of 4 oz orris root to 1/2 fl oz essential oil. Once it has matured for a couple of days you can use it by the tablespoonful as indicated in the recipes. Make sure that you label the jars clearly, stating the particular essential oil you have used. The collection of orris root/oil jars can then sit in a neat row on your kitchen shelf or worktop, where you can shake them occasionally to encourage the mixing process. Avoid storing them in strong sunlight as it will reduce the strength of the essential oils. sidr tree leaves