Holiday Simmering Stove Top Potpourri

This chilly weather we’re having makes me want to stay warm and cozy indoors.  Rather than lighting a scented candle the other day, I decided to mix up a pot of simmering stove top potpourri.  I found an old pot from the back of our base cabinets and started to look for ingredients.  One of my favorite recipes has fresh cranberries, oranges, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.




About this time last year, I had an abundant amount of oranges growing on the small Louisiana sweet citrus tree in our back yard.  The weather was crisp and cool, and the holidays were just around the corner, so I picked an almost-ripe orange for a cranberry and citrus stove top potpourri.




To me, the smell of citrus always reminds me of family and the holidays.  Years ago, my fraternal grandparents lived in south Florida, near an orange grove.  Whenever the orange blossoms were on the trees, the scent was incredible.  On the years when my grandparents weren’t able to come to Louisiana for the Christmas holidays, they would have a large box of oranges mailed to our family home.  I always loved the smell when the box was opened up.  Even now, the smell of winter citrus fruit brings back fond memories of my grandparents.





Honestly, though, I don’t remember when I started making stove top potpourri.  I’ve come across several good recipes using winter citrus fruit, like this one in particular by Rachel Schultz.  They’re all pretty easy to make and economical, too.  Basically, any citrus, whether it’s an orange, lemon, or grapefruit, added to stove top potpourri works for me, but my all-time favorite citrus fruit to use is an orange.




Recently, I’d come across a cranberry-orange muffins recipe adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, and thought I’d try it out.  So when I happened to notice the cranberries were out on the grocery shelves the other day, I picked up a bag while shopping.  Those cranberries came in handy during my in-house search for ingredients for my stove top potpourri.  In my cabinets, I had some whole cloves, ground nutmeg, and a few cinnamon sticks among other potential spices, like dried star anise, bay leaves, vanilla, rosemary sprigs, and ground ginger.  I didn’t have any oranges, though.  I’d actually forgotten to pick up a few oranges at the grocery store while I was there. And, unfortunately, last January our little orange tree froze during the sneaux-pocalypse in Louisiana.  So, no oranges for this current batch of simmering stove top potpourri.  But I did have a lemon and a couple of apples, so I was back in business!  I just made-do with what I had, and have been enjoying the smells of the season for the past couple of days.




If you’d like to make your own potpourri mix to simmer on top or your stove (or in a small crock pot with a low setting), this is the simple holiday recipe I’d made last year as shown in the above images:



1 Cup Fresh Cranberries

One Large Orange (or two small citrus fruit)

1 Tbsp. Cloves (whole or ground)

3 Cinnamon Sticks

1 Tsp. Nutmeg (grated or ground)



Cut the orange into pieces (or slices, if you prefer).  Put all ingredients in an old medium size saucepan pot and cover with water up to about an inch below the rim (you could also use apple juice or cider).  Place the saucepan on the smallest burner on the stove top, cover, offsetting the lid so the fragrant steam can escape, and simmer on the lowest setting.  If using a slow cooker, heat on low (lid off).  Add additional water as needed during the day, about every 30 minutes or so, if it’s simmering on the stove top for several hours.  This simmering potpourri usually lasts several days, and I just pour it out onto a compost pile afterwards.



Stir the mixture around from time to time, so that nothing ends up sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Do not allow the water level to drop below the halfway point in the pot.  Make sure to turn off the burner under the pot if you’re going to leave your house.  And, definitely turn off the burner on the stove at night before you go to bed!


Do you have a holiday simmering stove top potpourri recipe, too?  If so, what ingredients do you like to use?  Do tell!