I recently saw a beautiful foliage photo with the caption, "My favorite color is October."
Well, my favorite scent is October!
The crisp, cool air this month floats aromas like no other. The sweetness of decaying leaves, the green and slightly floral fragrance of chrysanthemums, the nuttiness of acorns and pine cones, the earthiness of a fallen summer. And those are just the natural aromas in the air.
Then there are carnivals, harvest festivals, and county fairs, carrying the scents of fried dough, cotton candy, and Italian sausages (even to a vegetarian, these smell delicious). And let's not forget the somehow comforting stench of farm animals mixed in with the fragrance of freshly baled hay. Apple orchards, corn stalks, and cider doughnuts. Sweet squashes and pumpkin pies.
Fall, especially October, is all about aromas.
Some of my favorite October scents aren't only for the fall, but they go hand in hand with harvest items such as pumpkins and apples: spices like cinnamon, clove, and anise.
My favorite way to scent my house in the fall, is to use spices like these in a simmer pot. What is a simmer pot? It's just water and spices, simmering uncovered in a pot on your stove. My mother used to do this when I was young, and maybe your mother, or your grandmother, did it too. It's very easy, and other than baking food in your oven, it's the best way to make your house smell like warm fall spices.
Take a small saucepan (I use a 1-qt pan) and fill it about halfway with water. Add your favorite smelling spices. Bring the water to a boil, then turn it down to the lowest setting, and let it slowly simmer and fill your home with delicious aromas.
Although I posted a recipe above, you really don't need to follow one, especially after you've tried it one or two times on your own. Nothing you mix will smell bad! You can experiment with amounts based on the size and openness of your home, and your preference for strength of aroma. You really can't go wrong with spices you already love, and it's a good way to use things like peels that you'd usually just toss straight in the compost:
- apple peel
- citrus peel
- star anise
Add your spices straight to pot or put them in a reusable muslin bag for easier clean up. You can even use a chai tea bag or mulling spice bag if you don't have the loose spices around! Just keep the heat on low, and never let the pan run dry (set a timer as a reminder).
If this is your first time using a simmer pot, let me know how it goes! If you've done this before, what are your favorite things to put inside? Comment below.