"Simmer Down" This Winter
Article Written By Brooklyn Walters
Recently, I have been intrigued by ways that I can live a life with less toxins, specifically in my home. I love burning candles just as much as the next person, but oftentimes, artificial fragrances in candles can be harmful health-wise.
While focusing on improving my health and my husband’s by cutting out endocrine disrupters and other toxins, I also wanted to hold onto some of the novelties that make me happy, like having a home that smells like the holidays.
There are some options for candles that have less toxins, but since we are on a budget and I wanted to use things I already have in my pantry to make our home smell wonderful, I decided to look into making simmer pots. They’re quick and easy, but they smell better than a lot of candles, in my opinion.
Now, simmer pots are my favorite! We almost always have one on the stove when we’re home. It smells amazing, and we like to drink the tea that is made from it when all the ingredients have rendered down.
Not only do simmer pots smell amazing, but they also look adorable! You can make simmer pots many ways, but I certainly have a few favorite combinations that I’ve found
during the autumn and winter seasons. Here’s my go-to:
Cranberries: Cranberries smell delightful and taste wonderful in the tea that is made. They also look beautiful! I like to have a little more than one layer of cranberries covering the water, so how many you use will be dependent on your personal preference, how big your pot is, and how much water you have.
Cinnamon sticks: I typically use one to two whole sticks of cinnamon. This gives the smell of the simmer pot a certain coziness about it and adds spice to the tea.
Whole cloves: The cloves also add a spice to the tea and smell like the holidays, which puts me in the best mood!
Orange slices: Depending on the day, I interchange these or accompany these with lemon slices as well. There’s no trick to the perfect thickness of the slices in my experiences, so I cut them to be about half an inch thick. If I am eating oranges or using them for something else, I will throw in the rinds by themselves as well.
Vanilla: I usually use about a tablespoon of vanilla. Even if the smell is not extremely evident because it mixes with all the other ingredients, it makes the tea taste better.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg also adds to the spice taste of the tea, plus it smells like baking, which I am fond of. How much you use is up to your taste and how much you like it, but I like to go with around a teaspoon.
Brown sugar (optional): This is specifically for the tea. I like a sweeter drink, so I add the sugar, taste the tea, and add more accordingly. I never measure this because it truly is different each time, but I like to add the sugar after I’m finished using the simmer pot for its smell and I’m ready to use it for tea.
Making the tea
When you’re ready to use the tea created from the simmer pot, I recommend putting a strainer over the pitcher or jar you want to store the tea in and separating the larger particles from the tea. Then, add brown sugar to the tea. You can drink it hot or cold.
Drying out some of the leftover ingredients
We like to dry out some of the contents of the simmer pot after we’ve strained it if they look like they could be used again. To do this, we turn the oven to its lowest temperature (for us it’s 170°), place a parchment paper lining on a baking sheet, then arrange the ingredients spaced out on the parchment paper. Continue baking them until they feel dry. This may take several hours.
When the contents are dried out completely, we like to store them in a container or jar, then use them again in our next simmer pot. This works especially well for ingredients like cinnamon sticks so that you don’t have to buy more quite as frequently.