History of Potpourri

geomouchet(Sunset 18 in CA)June 24, 2003

I'm interested in learning about the history of making potpourri. Can you direct me to some reference books or other reference sources?

Thanks,

Paulette Mouchet

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

Good question -- there's probably a PhD. thesis or two lurking there. I haven't seen anything that I'd really call "history" rather than "lore" about the origins and development of potpourri. Here's some guesswork:

It seems certain that the first stuff to be called potpourri was made by the "wet" method, in which rose petals were not completely dried to a crisp before being layered with salt. It's basically the same method as making sauerkraut, a process of fermentation -- and the word potpourri means "rotten pot" in French. I've read that jars of rose petals have been excavated from ancient sites in Egypt, so perhaps potpourri actually goes back that far. Potpourri jars -- opaque, with a solid cover to keep scent in and a pierced cover to let it out -- date back a few hundred years, I think, but I have no idea where and when the first one was made. "Strewing herbs" were used in the middle ages to sweeten the air, but I don't think they really count.

Dry potpourri is usually fortified with essential oils, and essential oils don't go back further than steam distillation, which is late middle ages. I suspect that growing flowers in the quantities needed for essential oil production is a product of the industrial revolution, with railroad transport and the prospect of using farmland for growing specialty cash crops.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2003 at 3:18PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Mystery dried plant
I am trying to find the name of the dried plant shown...
moonlightpeg
pink or blue antifreeze as glycerine alternative?
I read about this and wonder if anyone can compare...
erasmus_gw
White Spots and Lines on my Catharanthus Roseus Flowers
Hi I have transplanted many catharanthus roseus flowers...
shaiqbashir
Dried Seed Pod ID
Hello! Does anyone recognize this dried pod? Many thanks!...
elenarain
Can I Re-color Pressed Flower?
So I have this school project to make something using...
ElviraS
Sponsored Products
Evolution Orange Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 7 Ft. 9 In. Rug
$254.15 | Bellacor
Jackson Wall Sconce by Troy Lighting
$130.00 | Lumens
Moller 71 Side Chair
Design Within Reach
Authentic Models Venetian Tic-Tac-Toe
Classic Hostess
Carving Set - Ox Horn - Coltellerie Berti
$755.00 | HORNE
Wine Regions Of France IV Wall Art
$109.00 | FRONTGATE
Area Rug: Salonika DB Quatrefoil Grey 5' x 8'
Home Depot
Jodie Readers
$68.00 | Horchow
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™