Christmas Brew

One of the quintessential elements to that Christmas feeling in my house is Christmas Brew. This is probably the smell that can make me feel like Christmas the fastest. Combine it with some carols sung by St John’s choir, and I am in holiday heaven.

When Mom and Dad popped in for a visit a few weeks ago, Mom brewed up a batch.

Basically, you toss some orange peels, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves in a small to medium sized pot. Optional extras could include lemon peels, thyme, a little nutmeg, and the dregs of some mulled wine.

Isn’t it pretty?

You could even add some anise stars if you feel like walking on the wild side this season.

Fill the pot with water, and let it simmer on the stove all day. The water evaporates every couple hours, so make sure to refill it with water every so often.

No, it’s not edible. But it produces an incredible smell that just spreads like magic throughout your whole house. In fact, our apartment hallway has had a funky smell since we first moved in over a year ago. I’ve tried to get rid of it with scented oils, passionate cleaning, and candles. All methods have failed–until the Christmas brew. And as a testament to its power, even though it’s been at least a week since the brew was last used, the hallway still smells like something akin to ‘good.’

Just remember to turn the stove off at night before you go to bed (yes, I almost forgot once . . . or twice). You don’t want the forgotten Christmas brew to become The Year I Blew Up The House for the Holidays.

The next day, top the pot off with some more water, and simmer it again.

Word of warning: if you use a light-colored pot, it could slightly stain the inside. So you may want to use a dark pot that you don’t care about–aesthetically speaking, that is.

Because I care about all my pots.

Keep tossing in new peels whenever you gobble down an orange or clementine. I like to think it keeps things fresh. The brew will stay good for at least a week. I think. Just keep it simmering and that’s bound to kill off any bacteria.

This was the smell invading the house as Mom and Dad felt Heidi’s baby move for the first time.

Dibs are out on what they will call themselves now that they are going to be grandparents. I’m voting for ‘Mama Twinks’ and ‘Papa Rick’ (aka ‘Poppowick’).

Or ‘Momtaz’ and ‘Grampumps.’

Then again, I hear that grandparents’ names evolve organically from the confused and inarticulate lips of the grandchildren themselves.

That may be best after all.

I love Christmas brew. I think you will too. Give it a try!

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29 Responses to Christmas Brew

  1. skippymom says:

    I love the smiles. And the excitement conveyed by the birth ….YAY! Happy Baby Day [one day soon] and new parents and new grandparents. So wonderful.

    We do the same thing with the brew – but we are constantly refilling the pot with water throughout the day – eventhough we have it on low and start with a lot of water. Stuff evaporates. :)

    Enjoy the holidays and the new family member.

  2. Cindy says:

    It is a lovely smell, Jenna. I often do a similar thing with vanilla pods, especially when the dogs have had our leftover bean casserole.

  3. Veronica says:

    Sounds glorious! And I love the pics of your family–precious.

  4. Circe says:

    this is such a nice post, it makes me feel very Christmasy

  5. Wendi says:

    Maybe some Christmas Brew is what I need to get into the holiday spirit.

  6. I love this idea, it sounds like this would make perfect Christmas smells!! And who doesn’t want their house to smell like Christmas…congratulations and Happy Holidays!!

  7. Weighting For 50 says:

    Christmas brew sounds wonderful. And the family pics are lovely! VERY scrap book “worthy”! :)
    Have a great day!!!

  8. Sarah R says:

    I like to do the same. I egven have a designated pot for it. Also like to make spiced apple cider in the crock pot. And my vote is for Mama Twinks and Poppowick…or the organic thing, I guess. :)

  9. surlykitchen says:

    what a great idea. btw, love your yellow pot!

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks! The yellow pot was a wedding gift from my friend Libby’s mom. I was a young and foolish 22, and I had no idea what Le Creuset was. Hah! It’s my only ‘brand name’ pot, and needless to say I have come to appreciate its wonders over the years much more than when I first got the gift, when I was like “huh, a yellow pot. Huh.”

  10. Twinky says:

    I’ve had my Christmas Brew going since I got home from MK’s and BJ’s house, and Christmas Carols playing all day. What ambience!!
    The first time I saw this was on a Christmas Walk of homes in Sparta WI when I was in High School (you know, back in the Dark Ages….). The lady whose home we were seeing had this homemade potpourri over a candle in a small, flat-ish pan, and I think she may have also put some cranberries in for the decorative value since this was simmering on a side table in the livingroom where we could all see it. I remember the red/brown of the berries and spices, the orange/yellow of the citrus, and green of the bay leaf and how wonderful it made her whole home smell. Great idea to post about it, and the vanilla bean idea sounds great! …so where does one find vanilla beans??

    • Jenna says:

      I think any grocery store carries them–the question is the price. =) My friend Eve got some at Costco a couple years ago and it was $9.99 for 5 of them, or something like that.

    • Twinky says:

      Oh, and just a side note on the pot staining: I now use a non-stick sauce pan that I don’t care about since its handle is missing. I’ve burned it dry once, and the non-stick surface was a breeze for removing the charred ingredients and doesn’t stain. Corningware grab-it bowls are lovely to use for their size and shape over a candle, but over time the brown staining is hard on them, and they are very difficult to clean without damaging the corningware surface if it burns dry from using on the stove-top.

  11. Ashley Sisk says:

    It sounds yummy but I bet it smells devine!

  12. Sarah says:

    oooh sounds like this would smell great. thanks for the tip!

  13. Kay Heritage says:

    Oh, what sweet photos of your parents & Heidi! You are such a happy bunch. Love reading about you and your family! And I’ll be making Christmas brew for my home, too! Blessings to you, Jenna!

  14. HollyL says:

    Love your blog! O I would love to smell this brew! Sounds great!

  15. Sarah says:

    I saw your post and made some immediately! It has definitely made my lesson planning a lot merrier :) Hope you and Adam have a very happy Christmas!

  16. Nicole says:

    I’ll bet that smells AMAZING!

  17. Your Christmas Brew definitely sounds like a winner. I must first get myself the right pot. Your pot is really cool! Blessings…

  18. Kat says:

    Okay, I SO do not have baby rabies (mostly, they just freak me out), but that picture of Heidi and your parents made me want to weep little tears. How special!

  19. Joanne says:

    Christmas brew sounds awesome! Like those febreze air fresheners or potpourri but way better and way less fake smelling. I want.

    Your fam is so cute! You’d best keep us posted on this baby and on this grandparent name situation. I want details. My ovaries are throbbing. I need to live vicariously through SOMEONE.

    • Jenna says:

      I will keep everyone posted–no doubt! Next week I’m posting some gorgeous pregnancy shots of Heidi, and as soon as little James makes his appearance in the outer world, I won’t be able to stop blogging about it.

  20. Joni says:

    I need to brew some Christmas brew! Those smells are just wonderful! I loved the photos of grandma and grandpa feeling the baby move — just so wonderful to have something like that for posterity. Thanks for linking up with “It’s Your Wonderful Life” party. Joni

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