Our garden is putting in order…The shrubs which border the gravel walk, he says, are only sweetbriar and roses, and the latter of an indifferent sort; we mean to get a few of a better kind, therefore…
Jane Austen to Cassandra
February 8, 1807
Scented sachets are also known as “sweet bags” (an old name for a small sachet cloth bag). Since before recorded time, dried herbs, flowers and other scented materials have been used to freshen and refresh. Sachets with herbs like hops and lavender can act as a sedative. These type of sachets are often put in closets and dresser drawers the scent clothes and linens.
Ram’s booklet Little Dodoen, printed in 1606 gave a sachet formula to take to bed to help one sleep:
Take dry rose leaves keep them in a glass which will keep them sweet and then take powder of mints, powder of cloves in a grosse powder. Put the same to the Rose leaves then put all these together in a bag and take that to bed with you and it will cause you to sleep, and it is good to smell unto at other times.
The following recipe, from How to Cook, a recipe and household book printed in 1810, reads much like this much older recipe, but with the addition of musk. In Jane Austen’s day, musk came from the east: India, Pakistan, Tibet, China, Siberia and Mongolia. To obtain the musk, a musk deer is killed and its gland, also called “musk pod”, is removed. Upon drying, the reddish-brown paste inside the musk pod turns into a black granular material called “musk grain”, which is then tinctured with alcohol. The aroma of the tincture gives a pleasant odor only after it is considerably diluted. No other natural substance has such a complex aroma associated with so many contradictory descriptions; however, it is usually described abstractly as animalic, earthy and woody or something akin to the odor of baby’s skin.
Today, the musk deer is endangered and synthetic musk is used almost exclusively. Aside from the musk (which is added only “if you please”) this recipe is easily created with the handiest of kitchen items, for Bay Salt, is actually nothing more than Sea Salt, obtained by evaporation and rose leaves, of course, are freshly dried rose petals.
Linen, To Perfume.
-Take dried rose leaves, cloves and mace beaten to a powder, with a very small proportion of bay salt; sew it up in little bags. You may add a few grains of musk if you please.
How to Cook, 1810
Visit our giftshop for a range of Regency scented sachets!
Musk and Sachet information from Wikipedia.com