I received a gift of mulling spices a few years ago. The label says consume within one year. We do not use mulling spices to make mulled cider or mulled wine. I would have thrown it out before moving it half way across the country buy my husband packed up the spice cabinet so here we have some old spices we are not using!
Today I decided to use those mulling spices in water on the stove to boil then simmer to add humidity to the dry indoor air because the heat has been running for days. It's been in the 30s outside here in Houston.
The mulling spices seemed kind of weak so I read the label. I realized that the spices in my cabinet were probably newer and fresher. One ingredient was dried orange peel. I also noticed this Williams-Sonoma brand had cinnamon oil and orange oil added, which is probably why they recommended it be used within one year.
So here is how to make your own potpourri for the stove top, which should be less expensive than buying mulling spices to use for this purpose.
As you eat oranges, mandarin oranges, clementines, or use lemons or limes, shred the peel by hand or cut it up. Lay these on a jelly roll pan to air dry. When dry put into a jar to store for future use.
If you have old powdered spices you probably should refresh, consider adding these to a batch: powdered cinnamon, powdered allspice, powdered nutmeg, and powdered cloves.
If you find yourself in a spice shop or craft shop you may find low cost cinnamon bark chips. These are great to have on hand for potpourri or stovetop potpourri.
At the time you want to use the stovetop potpourri, add a teaspoon of whole cloves, a teaspoon of whole allspice, a cinnamon stick, some of the dried citrus peel, to a full pot of water.
(If you have the old powdered spices use those in place of whole spices.)
There are no magic quantities, I just used 1 teaspoon per three quarts of water as a general guage.
Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Leave the lid off.
Do not let the pot boil dry. Keep adding water to the pot as needed. If you let this boil for hours and hours and the spices look spent, add more to that same pot and keep simmering it.
In the winter when I am home all day I sometimes let this simmer for twelve hours!
When finished, throw the water and the spent spices into your compost bin.