Make your house smell like it’s ready for the holidays with kitchen scraps and pantry staples in this Holiday Scented Stove Top Simmer.
I am a sucker for anything holiday scented. If something smells like Christmas, I will probably buy it. It could be “Pine Bough” or “Christmas Cookie” or “Holiday Spice” or whatever other holiday themed olfactory concoction someone came up with.
One year, I went into a popular bath store (you know the one – they have them in every mall) and bought a big bag full of hand soaps, candles and plug-in air fresheners – all of them Christmas scented. I got home, filled my bathrooms and plugged in a piney smelling air freshener. After a while, I noticed that the smell was overpowering and starting to give me a headache. I unplugged it and left it on top of the end table. A few hours later, I noticed that the oil (or whatever it was) in the air freshener had leaked out all over the table. I wiped it off, and the table’s finish came right along with it. Seeing that, and remembering the headache I had earlier made me realize that I no longer cared to have those fumes present in the air in my home, and I promptly threw out the air freshener.
Still wanting my home to smell festive, I opted for the more natural route, as I remembered my Mom doing when I was growing up. I started to use a Holiday Scented Stove Top Simmer. A stove top simmer is just making a potpourri out of fragrant items, topping it off with water and simmering to fill your home with fragrance. This version is great, because it uses items that are common in your home and kitchen at this time of the year. It is also flexible, so if you happen to be missing one of the ingredients, it’s not a big deal.
I always put orange peels in mine. I just save the peels in a small saucepan whenever someone in my house eats one, instead of throwing them out. You can also use halved oranges that are a little too mushy or hard to eat. Just get rid of any moldy or rotten parts first. I always add a cinnamon stick, and some cloves. If I feel like going out to the backyard to cut a couple of spruce sprigs, I’ll add those too. Star anise is optional. It is very fragrant, but not everyone will like the licorice-like scent.
Just throw everything into a small saucepan (my mom used to use an enameled metal mug), cover it with water and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat so that it’s just steaming, and your house will be fragrant as long as it’s sitting there. Make sure to use common sense and avoid leaving it unattended. Also, make sure to check the water level periodically and if it’s getting low, top it off with more water as needed.
- Orange peels and/or halved oranges (It's okay to uses oranges that you don't want to eat, eg. ones that are dried out or mushy, just make sure to cut off any rotten or moldy bits)
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 small spruce or pine sprigs
- 1 pinch (about 10) whole cloves
- 1 star anise or equal portion of broken pieces (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
Add orange peel cinnamon sticks, spruce sprigs, cloves and star anise to a small saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low to medium low and continue to barely simmer (really, you just want it to keep steaming). Check water levels often, and add more water as needed.
Holiday Scented Stove Top Simmer Nutrition Notes:
Please don’t try to eat your Holiday Scented Stove Top Simmer – I doubt it would be a pleasant experience.