Potpourri - A viable value added product
Authors: Prabhat Kumar & D.V.S. Raju
Senior Scientist
Division of Floriculture and Landscaping


Flowers are intricately linked in our day to day lives. They are source of inspiration and regarded as mind food for peace. The life of flowers is very short. To circumvent this problem flowers may be naturally dried or preserved in a number of ways like dried flowers in their original form, press dried flower and dried flowers used for porpourri. Potpourri is a blend of dried, naturally fragrant plant material, used to provide a gentle natural scent, mostly used indoors. It is usually placed in a decorative bowl, or tied in small sachet. Potpourri is used inside the home to give the air a pleasant smell. The word "potpourri" comes into English from the French word "pot-pourri." For rotten pot. These natural air fresheners are enjoying new-found popularity today.

There are two types of potpourri -- moist and dry.

Materials required

The three main components of potpourri are plant materials, fixatives and essential oils.

Plant materials : The most plant material used are roses, lavender, the leaves and flowers of the many scented leaf geraniums, rosemary, mint, lemon balm, thyme, lemon verbena, santolina and southern wood. Flower petals of marigolds, rudbeckia, black-eyed-Susan's, zinnias, cornflowers, sunflowers.

Fixative:Natural aroma of the flower fades with time. To withhold the natural and added fragrance for a longer time, fixative is added. A fixative is a natural or synthetic substance used to reduce the evaporation rate and improve stability when added to more volatile components. This allows the final product to last longer while keeping its original fragrance. Sandalwood, vetiver and orris root are commonly used as fixatives.

Others are oak moss, clary sage leaves, coriander seeds, bay leaves, cloves, mint leaves, or dried citrus rinds. One or more than one fixative may be used in recipe. Spices and herbs are added to further enhance the scent. Some that work well are cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, and allspice.

Essential oils: An essential oil is a concentrated liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. They carry a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam. Other processes include expression or solvent extraction.

Containers: Large and sealed containers are required for incubation of materials. Small and easily available containers are required for final product.

Procedure

1. Selection of container and material: The container should be antique, ornamental and as far as possible natural. The material must have a natural scent, texture, colour and size to give an original and interesting look.

2. Drying the material: Air drying, silica gel drying and Micro wave oven drying. In air drying first flowers are tied with a rubber band and are hung upside down to dry. In drying with dessicants the flowers are placed in dessicants like silica gel. Microwave dring is the fastest and best method. In this method flowers are placed in medium like silica gel and dried for few minutes at medium high heat.

3. Layering: Layer the material in a container beginning with the largest ingredient like twigs, leaves, berries and flowers.

4. Add fixative: They should be placed preferably on the first layer. Essential oil : Add a drop or two of essential oil and continue with layering

5. Seal the container and allow to set in a cool and dry place for six to eight weeks.

6. Shake or stir every day in a gentle manner.

7. Put the final product in a decorative and ornamental container with provision of removable lid.

Some of the commonly used recipes

1. Flower petals (rose, larkspur, lavender, marigold and pansies)

Dried peels of lemons and oranges

Orris root powder/Cinnamom

Few drops of rose or bergamot oil

2. Flower petals

Mixture of Cinnamon sticks, berries, allspice, cloves and dried peel of oranges

Powdered cinnamon and cloves

Rose or cinnamon oil

3. Pine cones (Small)


Pine needles

Flower petals

Rose hips

Fixative

Essential oil

4. Mixture of Flower petals

Dried cut greens

Peels of oranges and lemons

Spices

Essential oil

Advantages :

1. They give a new look and refresh the entire interior with natural fragrance.

2. They are economical

3. They are eco- friendly

4. They are alternate source of revenue and off farm employment generation




About Author / Additional Info:
I am working as scientist in floriculture