One man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri.

Jim Carrey

Never, but never do research. Chances are you will come across a word or a phrase that will open your eyes and put a smile on your face. Potpourri is just that word. See the definition below.

Noun… pot-pourri, 1610s, “mixed meats served in a stew,” from French pot pourri “stew,” literally “rotten pot” (loan-translation of Spanish olla podrida), from pourri, past participle of pourrir “to rot,” from Vulgar Latin *putrire, from Latin putrescere “grow rotten” (see putrescent ). Notion of “medley” led to meaning “mixture of dried flowers and spices,” first recorded in English 1749. Figurative sense (originally in music) of “miscellaneous collection” is recorded from 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Olive: Find recipes at the end.

Tilly: I trust they are not putrid.

“Rotten Pot”, that word brought a smile to my eyes. It reminded me of a bowl of stew that somehow got lost in the back of someone’s refrigerator. To be discovered months after a soft and silky green moss had grown over the top. It certainly did not remind me of a glass or porcelain jug filled with dried fruits and flowers designed to make ones room smell like an outdoor garden.

It has been said that Ancient Egyptians had massive quantities of fresh roses placed in crocks and buried for later use. Some say they were the first in trying to preserve the scent of summer flowers. Ha, it was not the scent of summer they were trying to preserve. They were hiding the stench in that pyramid. Reminds you of rotten meat. The French may have been onto something here.

Now, that your sense of smell mixed with the memories of rotten meat have settled in. I want to remind you what Alice Morse Earle said about potpourri.

“There is something very pleasant in opening an old China jar to find it filled with potpourri, even if the scent has wholly faded.”

Enjoy the recipes below

Olive and Tilly

Old Rose and Lavender Potpourri

1/2 cup rose petals

1/2 cup lavender blossoms

1/2 cup sweet woodruff

1/2 cup pot marjoram leaves and blossoms

1/4 cup mint

2 teaspoons orange peel

2 teaspoons whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon crushed cinnamon stick

2 drops each of lavender and rose oils

1/2 teaspoon powdered orrisroot

Combine the first eight ingredients. Sprinkle the oils and the orrisroot over the dry

ingredients and mix well. Place in a covered jar, and stir gently every few days for a month,

until the scents have blended and mellowed. Remove the jar’s cover to freshen a room, but

be sure to replace the cover between times of use. All potpourris need time to recoup their

scents. The above recipe will also work well in sachets.

Tilly: Tilly: ‘No bought potpourri is so pleasant as that made from one’s own garden, for the petals of the flowers one has gathered at home hold the sunshine and memories of summer, and of past summers only the sunny days should be remembered.’ – Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Traditional Rose Potpourri


4 pints rose petals

2 pints lavender Flowers

1-pint rosemary

1-cup cloves

1-pint lemon verbena leaves or lemon grass

1-cup whole allspice

1/3 cup juniper berries

1/2 cup anise seed

1/3 cup Benzoin gum powder or Orris root preservative

1-cup pickling salt

15 drops Oil of Rose

7 drops Oil of Rose Geranium


Layer Flowers on the bottom of plastic pail. Add herbs, berries, and spices. Top with preservatives and salt, then put drops of oil onto the salt. Mix and cover pail. Continue to mix the ingredients every day, for six weeks. Store in plastic bags until ready for use.

Tilly: What is pickling salt …?

Olive: Tilly surely you and others on that island of yours makes your own pickles. Pickling salt is salt that does not contain iodine or any anti caking products added.

Tilly: Olive, why can’t you on that continent say sea salt, rock salt or kosher salt? Table salt has iodine added together with aluminium salts to make it free-flowing.

Citrus Delight


1 cup peppermint leaves

1/3 cup lemon verbena leaves

1/3 cup lemon balm

1/4 cup tarragon

1/2 cup rosemary

1/2 cup juniper berries

4 cups dried orange peels

4 pints dried Flower petals (roses, or any dried Flowers you have collected)

1/3 cup Benzoin gum powder or Orris root preservative

1/2 cup pickling salt

15 drops lemon oil and lime oil


The ingredients are layered starting with dried Flowers, herbs and spices (whole cloves or allspice may also be added). Top with preservatives, salt, and oils. The purpose of layering in this sequence is that it helps evenly distribute the preservatives, salt, and oils onto the petals. You are, in fact, pickling and preserving a mixture that you would like to use for many years.

Tilly: This would be ideal in the kitchen!

Olive: Not in mine… with my luck I would accidently put it in a stew pot.

Tilly: Might make for a delicious and fragrant meal.

“Chapter II “Of Cookery,” 47. To make an excellent olla podrida.

To make an ecellent olla podrida, which is the only principal dish of boiled meat which is esteemed in all Spain, you shall take a very large vessel, pot or kettle, and, filling it with water, you shall set it on the fire, and first put in good thick gobbets of well fed beef, and, being ready to boil, scum your pot; when the beef is half boiled, you shall put in potato roots, turnips, and skirrets: also like boggets of the best mutton, and the best pork; after they have boiled a while, you shall put in the like gobbets of venison, red and fallow, if you have them; then the like gobbets of veal, kid, and lamb; a little space after these, the foreparts of a fat pig, and a crammed pullet; then put in spinach, endive, succory, marigold leaves and flowers, lettuce, violet leaves, strawberry leaves, bugloss, and scallions, all whole and unchopped; then when they have boiled a while, put in a partridge and a chicken chopped in pieces, with quails, rails, black birds, larks, sparrows, and other small birds, all being well and tenderly boiled; season up the broth with good store of sugar, cloves, mace, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg mixed together in a good quantity of verjuice and salt, and so stir up the pot well from the bottom, then dish it up upon great chargers, or long Spanish dishes made in the fashion of our English wooden trays, with good store of sippets in the bottom; then cover the meat all over with prunes, raisins, currants, and blanched almonds, boiled in a thing by themselves; then cover the fruit and the whole boiled herbs with slices of oranges and lemons, and lay the roots round about the sides of the dish, and strew good store of sugar over all, and so serve it forth.”

—The English Housewife, Gervase Markham, facsimile 1615 edition edited by Michael R. Best [McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal] 1986, 1994 (p. 77-78)

[NOTES: (1) Skirret is a species of water parsnip. (2) Bugloss is a plant with leaves resembling an ox’s tongue. (3) Sippet is a small slice of bread, toasted or fried, used to sop up gravy. (4) Rail is a small bird. (5) Charger is a platter.]

To make Hodge-Podge

Take a Piece of Beef, Fat and Lean together about a Pound, Pound of Veal, a Pound of Scrag of Mutton, cut all into little Pieces, set it on the Fire, with two Quarts of Water, an Ounce of Barley, an Onion, a little Bundle of Sweet Herbs, three or four Heads of Salary washed clean, and cut small, a little Mace, two or three Cloves, some whole Pepper, tied all in a Muffin Rag, and put to the Meat three Turnips pared and cut in two, a large Carrot scraped clean, and cut in six Pieces, a little Lettuce cut small, put all in a Pot, and cover it close. Let it stew very softly over a slow fire five or six Hours; take out the Spice, Sweet Herbs, and Onion, and pour all into a Soop-dish, and send it to Table; first season it with Salt. Half a Pint of Green Peas, when it is the Season for them, is very good. If you let this boil fast, it will waste to much; therefore you cannot do it too slow, if it does but simmer: All other Stews you have in the foregoing Chapter; and Soops in the Chapter of Lent.”

—The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hannah Glasse, facsimile 1747 London edition

Tilly: I used to make hodge-podge (of a type!) often – especially when the month was running out of money. It comprised the ‘special’ ingredients left in the fridge … The problem was the family would like the splodge dish and ask me to cook it again – and I couldn’t ever achieve the same impromptu dish!

Olive: That seems to be the problem the world over when using leftovers and making a totally different dish.

Tilly: The amount of wasted leftover food is also a problem, don’t you think?

Slogans on Wastage of Food:

“Don’t lose food to lose a few pounds.”

“Your full plate could be useful if it filled someone else’s stomach too.”

“The richest is the one who has three meals a day.”

“Save food, save animals and save humans dying of hunger.”

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  • Jerry Bell

    I always learn something from this blog. There are always new things discovered.
    This time I love the history potpourri, along with the rotten pot. I can see how the hodgepodge got its name.
    I wish I would have had these recipes when all my kids were still at the house. They would have saved the day several times.
    Great blog!

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