Welcoming the Holiday Season: A Fresh Evergreen Simmer Pot for Natural Home Fragrance.
As the holiday season approaches, many of us seek ways to make our homes feel warm, inviting, and filled with the delightful scents that define this festive time of year. If you are like I was, obsessed with candles from Bath and Body Works, this used to mean burning candles all day long! Like… I literally had to get all the new scents every season. I thought I could never kick my addiction… then I did and I found a better way to scent my home! Now I get a headache the minute I am around faux fragrance (yikes!).
While scented candles and air fresheners have long been popular choices for many, there’s a great way to infuse your home with the essence of the season using natural and fresh ingredients. Enter the simmer pot – a simple yet effective method to create an evergreen-scented haven during the winter months.
I have no clue why I waited this long to make one (Actually, I do. I felt like it might still be wasteful. More on that below.). Using cedar tips I had on hand, eastern hemlock needles straight from my backyard, and leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving (let’s be honest, my family just wants the creepy canned jiggly cranberry with the can lines), and other spices, I think I captured the spirit of the holidays quite well!
After much experimenting, below is my favorite recipe that captures the best scents of the season. I think it’s a pretty perfect natural dupe for the Bath and Body Works scent “Tis the Season,” making it an excellent choice for your Christmas simmer pot: a natural way to make your house smell divine.
Evergreen Simmer Pot Recipe
Some of the links below are affiliate links for Starwest Botanicals, my favorite place to buy herbs online.
- 1 cup cedar tips (harvested from young cedar branches)
- 1 cup eastern hemlock needles* (You can also use pine, juniper, fir, or spruce- whatever evergreen tree you can forage nearby!)
- 1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
- 4-5 whole cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups water (or more as needed)
*This is just the tree I have in my yard. Use what you have! And no, this is not poison hemlock. That is a different plant!*
- Medium-Sized Pot
- Measuring Cups (or you can just eye-ball it honestly)
- Stove top (you can also use a crock pot or slow cooker on low if you prefer!)
- Stirring Spoon
- Combine Ingredients: In a medium-sized pot, combine the cedar tips, hemlock needles, cranberries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.
- Add Water: Pour in 4 cups of water, ensuring that the ingredients are mostly submerged. Add more water if needed to cover the ingredients.
- Simmer on the Stovetop: Place the pot on the stovetop over low to medium heat.
- Bring to a Simmer: Allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer. Be cautious not to let it boil rapidly; a low simmer will gradually release the aromas.
- Adjust Water Levels: Keep an eye on the water level and add more if it reduces too much during the simmering process.
- Simmer and Enjoy: Let the simmer pot continue on low heat for as long as you desire, typically at least an hour. The longer it simmers, the more the aroma will fill your home.
- Monitor Water Levels: Check the water levels periodically and top up as needed to prevent the pot from drying out.
- Turn Off Heat: Once you’ve fully enjoyed the smells of Christmas and your home is filled with the cozy aroma, turn off the heat and let the pot cool.
- Reuse or Discard: You can store the cooled mixture in the refrigerator and reuse it for another day. When you’re ready to use it again, simply reheat it on the stovetop.
Evergreens are perfect for your holiday simmer pot!
Here are some evergreens commonly used in simmer pots:
- Cedar Tips: The tips of cedar branches release a pleasant woodsy fragrance that is both grounding and uplifting.
- Eastern Hemlock Needles: The needles of the eastern hemlock tree offer a slightly citrusy and pine-like aroma, adding a crisp note to the simmering pot.
- Pine Needles: Pine needles are a classic choice, providing a strong, unmistakable evergreen scent that is synonymous with the holiday season.
- Spruce Tips: Similar to pine, spruce tips contribute a fresh and resinous fragrance, creating a delightful woodland atmosphere.
- Fir Needles: Fir needles emit a sweet and woody scent, making them a popular choice for simmer pots during the winter months.
- Juniper Branches: Juniper branches release a clean and slightly spicy aroma, adding a unique touch to your simmer pot blend.
Always harvest from healthy, pesticide-free sources, and be mindful of any potential allergies. Additionally, use the tips or needles of these evergreens rather than large branches, as this will release the desired fragrance without overwhelming the pot. This post from Grow Forage Cook Ferment can help you identify evergreens if you want to learn more!
Use what you have on hand for your Simmer Pot!
Here are other commonly used food items to add to your simmer pot:
- Fresh orange slices or Citrus Peels*
- Vanilla Beans or Extract
- Star Anise
- Cardamom Pods
- Bay Leaves
- Ginger Slices
- Pineapple Chunks
- Apple Slices or Apple Peels
- Juniper Berries
- Rosemary Sprigs
- Eucalyptus Leaves
- Whole Allspice
*You can use dried fruit or fresh fruit*
Are simmer pots wasteful?
Nope, simmer pots are not wasteful! Not compared to a traditional store-bought candle! They are more wasteful than doing nothing, though.
The wastefulness of simmer pots depends on the specific context and you use them. Here are some considerations:
- Water Usage: Simmer pots require water to create the steam that carries the aromatic scents. If you frequently use simmer pots with large amounts of water, it could contribute to water consumption. However, the amount of water used is typically much less than what would be used in other common household activities like showering or washing dishes.
- Energy Consumption: Simmer pots use energy to heat the water and release the scents. While the energy consumption is relatively low compared to other appliances, it’s still a factor to consider. If you are using a gas stove, there is also a gas consumption aspect.
- Ingredient Sourcing: The ingredients used in simmer pots are often natural and can sometimes be sourced sustainably or even harvested from your own garden. However, if you use rare ingredients, there might be environmental considerations related to their sourcing. This is why they are much more sustainable than essential oils, where huge amounts of plant material are used to make one tiny bottle of oil.
- Reusable Ingredients: Many ingredients used in simmer pots, such as citrus peels, herbs, and spices, can be reused for multiple simmering sessions. This can reduce waste compared to one-time-use air fresheners.
To minimize potential wastefulness of simmer pots:
- Use Reusable Ingredients: Opt for natural ingredients that can be reused for multiple simmering sessions.
- Moderation: Use simmer pots in moderation, and turn them off when you leave the house or when the desired scent is achieved.
- Energy-Efficient Appliances: If possible, use energy-efficient stovetops or hot plates.
Overall, while there are some environmental considerations, simmer pots are generally considered a more sustainable and natural alternative to many commercial air fresheners. Like any household practice, being mindful of resource usage and opting for sustainable choices can help mitigate potential wastefulness.
Simmer pots are better than candles for a few reasons:
- Natural Air Freshener: Simmer pots offer a natural alternative to commercial air fresheners with artificial ingredients. They use real ingredients like herbs, spices, and fruits to create a fresh and inviting atmosphere to make your home smell great!
- Aromatherapy: The scents released from simmer pots can have aromatherapeutic benefits. Different herbs and spices are believed to have various effects on mood and well-being. For example, lavender is often associated with relaxation, while citrus scents can be invigorating.
- Seasonal or Festive Atmosphere: Simmer pots can be customized with seasonal ingredients to evoke a particular atmosphere. During the holiday season, you might use ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, and orange peels for a warm and festive aroma.
- Humidification: The steam produced by simmer pots can add a bit of moisture to the air, which can be beneficial, especially in dry indoor environments when you have the heat cranked up
Create Your Own Unique Simmer Pot to Fill Your Home with Fragrance and Warmth all Winter Long
As we embrace the winter months, the evergreen simmer pot proves to be the best way to transform our homes into havens of warmth and festive scents. The combination of cedar tips, eastern hemlock needles, and an array of warm spices creates an aromatic symphony that is as inviting as it is comforting. But beyond the specific recipe shared, the beauty of simmer pots lies in their adaptability. Consider a stroll down the grocery store aisles, where abundant fresh ingredients await your creativity. The evergreen simmer pot is just the beginning; mix in citrus peels, vanilla, or other herbs to craft your signature blend.
This simple yet effective practice isn’t just about making your own home welcoming; it’s also a great thoughtful gift idea for friends and loved ones. A jar filled with the ingredients and a heartfelt note can convey the joy of the season in a unique and personal way (you can also check out my homemade natural beeswax holiday gifts if you are looking for more ideas).
As we navigate the holiday hustle, take a moment to simmer a pot on the stove, inhale the festive scent, and revel in the simplicity of a great idea that transforms a house into a home. Wishing you a season filled with warmth, joy, and the delightful aroma of your own creation. Cheers to the evergreen simmer pot and the magic it brings to our homes during this special time of year!
If you decide to make your own simmer pot, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @brittanylgibson!
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About the Author:
I’m Brittany, totally modern and mainstream turned crunchy mama!
Read more here about how I went from a totally incompetent cook and hyper-consumer to striving to live a more meaningful life from scratch.
I can’t wait to share my modern homesteading journey with you and I hope I inspire you to join along!