(adapted from Make your own AphrodisiacsAphrodisia, p44)

The fragrance of jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is euphoric, heady and sensuous. The plant has always been associated with love and weddings, and is prized by perfumiers for the way it combines musky masculine and florally feminine qualities.

The scent immediately makes you feel happier, as we found out one summer when renting a house in central Cyprus. The house was located in an orange orchard, and all day long the scent of orange flowers permeated the air. At night, though, a single jasmine plant overwhelmed every other smell.

Jasmine is heat-sensitive, and its essential oil cannot be extracted with steam, as is the norm for most flowers. The old extraction method is called enfleurage. We have tried this ourselves, and it’s a beautiful process, needing you to endure the hardly onerous task of picking a couple of handfuls of fresh jasmine flowers (if you are lucky enough to have a vine) each evening for a fortnight in summer.

It was a jasmine bower. All bestrewn
With golden moss. His every sense had grown
Ethereal for pleasure.
– John Keats, Endymion (1818)

Make a jasmine enfleurage

Start by melting a thin layer of coconut oil on a non-stick baking tray and let it solidify at room temperature. Spread your jasmine flowers on the tray and leave them overnight. Next day, replace the flowers with fresh ones. After one or two weeks the coconut will smell of jasmine.

Remove the last lot of flowers and heat the oil just enough to melt it and then pour it into a jar, which you can proudly label ‘homemade jasmine enfleurage’.

Jasmine tea is made from white or green tea flavoured with flowers of jasmine’s sister species, J. sambac.

Jasmine pudding

Put in a small saucepan: 1 tablespoon jasmine tea and 75ml (2.5 fl oz) boiling water; leave to infuse for 1 minute. Add 30g (1 oz) caster sugar and 150ml (1/4 pint) single cream.

Slowly bring to a boil, stirring over a low heat. When the cream tastes well flavoured, strain it into a clean saucepan.

Dissolve 1 teaspoonful agar in 0.5 tablespoon water and add this to the cream. Simmer gently until the agar has dissolved. Pour into two dessert dishes and chill until set. Makes two bowls, as in the picture.