Are Simmer Pots Actually Edible?

A simmer pot, often referred to as stovetop potpourri, is a delightful concoction of fruits, spices, and other ingredients that are boiled in water to create a warm and inviting fragrance. While a simmer pot is primarily designed for aromatic purposes, it is important to clarify whether it can be deemed edible.

The typical contents of a simmer pot include fruits like cranberries, oranges, lemons, and apples; spices such as cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves; herbs like rosemary, sage, mint, lavender, and thyme; and, occasionally, vanilla extract or essential oils. Some folks even place pine needles from their Christmas tree into the pot. These components release their natural oils when heated.

As appetizing as this medley sounds, in most cases, a simmer pot's contents are not intended for consumption. Why not, though? Well, the fruits and spices used may not be the freshest, and the heat applied during simmering can greatly alter their texture and flavor. Additionally, some ingredients, like cloves and essential oils, can be overpoweringly bitter or pungent when consumed in their concentrated form. Therefore, a simmer pot should not be considered a beverage or food item on its own.

Create a simmer pot for the smell, not the taste

There are, however, a few exceptions in which a simmer pot can be used in culinary applications — as long as you only used edible ingredients. The liquid leftover from a simmer pot, once cooled, can be added to beverages like tea, punch, or cocktails to infuse them with a festive twist. The dried fruits and spices can be preserved and repurposed as decorative homemade potpourri. Some recipes, particularly for desserts like cakes or bread, call for fruit and spices similar to those in a simmer pot, such as cinnamon or citrus zest.

While it has limited culinary applications, a simmer pot is a simple, safe, and cost-effective way to diffuse a seasonal bouquet without lighting strong candles or using artificial air fresheners. To make a simmer pot, all you have to do is bring a couple of cups of water and your chosen ingredients to a gentle boil in a saucepan and then reduce the heat to let the aroma permeate the atmosphere.

Remember to keep a watchful eye to prevent the water from evaporating entirely, and turn off the stove when you're done. Moreover, since the flame is constant, it is best to keep young children, pets, and combustible materials away from the lit kitchen appliance. A simmer pot is a lovely means to create a pleasant, inviting ambiance, but it is best appreciated for its aromatic qualities rather than as a drinkable brew or something edible.