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Potpourri

What is Potpourri
Broadly, potpourri is a mixture of dry and fragrant plants and the mixture lends a natural and fresh scent to the surroundings. The potpourri is primarily characterized by the utilization of dried flowers. A natural air freshener, it is a highly popular item and is, traditionally, a preparation of a melange of dried flowers, wood shavings, dried plants, leaves, seeds and cones. In other words, all dry natural products can be added to the potpourri to ensure that the contents are durable and non moldy at all times.There are two types of potpourri namely dry and moist varieties. The word potpourri is derived from the French word "pot pourri" denoting a Spanish stew having a large number of ingredients called oila podrida. In common parlance, a collection of diverse items is also referred to as potpourri. In English, "potpourri" is frequently used to refer to any collection of miscellaneous or diverse items. Fitted into plain and ornate wooden bowls or tiny bags made of a variety of fabrics

like cotton pillows, the potpourri is a unique speciality product. It is used, mostly, to keep the rooms and cupboards smelling fresh and fragrant at all times. In ceramic manufacturing, the potpourri vase is a specially designed tool to hold the potpourri.

 

Components of Potpourri
Potpourri is made using a variety of heavily scented and natural ingredients. Flowers form the best ingredients for the potpourri which includes roses, lavender and violets. Yellow and deep red rose petals are used ideally as rose petals they dry faster. Spices like thyme, nutmeg and cinnamon are also used in the making of the potpourri. Citrus products lend a fresh appeal to the potpourri and are also being increasingly incorporated in potpourri items. Common citrus items used include the lemon and dried oranges. Leaves like mint, eucalyptus, cedar and pine needles are also used in the formation of the potpourri. The most general ingredients of potpourri include the cedar wood shavings, cypress wood shavings, incense-cedar wood shavings, juniper wood shavings, lavender leaves and flowers, mignonette leaves and flowers, pine cones, rose flowers- hips, or oil, cinnamon bark, marjoram, jasmine flowers and oil, etc.

   
Modern day potpourri is composed of dried plant materials fused with varied scented strong synthetic perfumes and other types of dyes. Newer ingredients are added to maintain bulk and to give it a much more pleasing appearance. Generally, scents are used to give it a more attractive feel. Fixatives like orris roots are needed so that the scents are absorbed faster. Small marbles, pine cones and dried leaves are also used as fillers.  
 
How to prepare a Potpourri
A simple process is utilized in making of the potpourri where all the flowers and fillers are gathered together and undergo a period of drying. Virtually, anything from nature's gardens can be used to make potpourris. Ideally, the flowers should be picked in mid morning time. Small bowls, tiny baskets, cups and cloth sachets are the types of containers used to place the potpourris. Properly grounded ingredients and small pieces of finely chopped flowers are preferred items for use. Essential oils can also be added, if required. The mixture is then placed in a glass container and then left for several weeks for it to take proper shape. After a few weeks, the mixture may not smell good but it recovers and starts to smell good again. For one day, the absorbent paper can be placed under the items to ensure it is rid of moisture completely.
 
When fully dry, the petals are ready for to be used and can be mixed to create potpourri according to the necessary items. Drying process is faster in summers but it is best to leave the ingredients alone for some weeks before they are used. Extra leaves, seashells or colored wood shavings can also be added to make a highly composite potpourri. Creativity and experimentation is required to create potpourris having musky or fresh aromas and the trend is increasingly to create brightly colored displays than heavily scented mixtures. 
 

Uses Of Potpourri
Potpourri is used in cupboards and rooms to enliven and freshen the entire atmosphere. It is also used in aromatherapy where varied scents and oils are used to induce a peaceful and calm mood. In the preparation of the essential oils, they are also used in minute quantities so that no strong smells are created at any point. While stuffing pillows, potpourris are also used and various additions like pine cones and wood shavings can be made to it. Potpourri is also used in gifts as it is highly attractive and can be prepared with many possibilities. It is also used in cupboards to neutralize the smell of mothballs which are placed to ward off insect attacks. They are also placed in drawers and purses to remove musty smells and create freshness. An innovative usage of potpourri is to place tiny packs of it in shoes to remove odors. They are also put in ashtrays and added as fillings in the making of soft toys and other children's toys.