Jasmine spice, which adds a strong floral fragrance and flavor to food and beverages, is simply blossoms taken from the jasmine plant, which range in color from stark white to light pink. While jasmine is highly fragrant, it is also a delicate flower that stands out best against other light or delicate flavors. Do not confuse jasmine spice and jasmine rice; the floral flavor comes from the rice plant with no added spices.
Best Jasmine Spice
Specialty food markets, particularly Asian markets, most likely sell an assortment of dried jasmine flowers for culinary use. While the jasmine flavor from dried jasmine is unmistakeable, it is strongest when derived from fresh jasmine. If you happen to have a jasmine plant in your garden, collect fresh blossoms during the long blooming period from spring to fall. For best flavor, collect buds in the morning when closed, keep them cool throughout the day, and use them in the evening just as the buds open. Any extra fresh flowers can be dried in a paper bag and stored in an air-tight container for future use. Do not confuse true jasmine from the Jasminus genus, with false species from the genus Gelsemium that are poisonous when ingested. Common names for false jasmine include jessamine, Carolina jasmine, woodbine and yellow jasmine.
Jasmine spice is perhaps best known for its use in herbal teas. Commonly used in tea blends, it can be purchased in tea bags ready for immediate steeping, but you can use dried or fresh jasmine flowers and make your own custom tea blend. Avoid strong black and red teas that can mask the floral flavor; instead, use lightly flavored teas. Green tea is often used as the base in jasmine tea blends, but the jasmine flavor stands out boldly against mild white tea. Dried citrus peel pairs well with jasmine spice in tea. The tea must mingle with fresh jasmine flowers for at least four hours to absorb the flavor. Use the tea immediately or dry -- fresh flowers add moisture to the tea leaves -- and store it in an air-tight container until ready to use.
Cookies, cupcakes, scones, syrups and dressings are among the many foods that benefit from an infusion of tantalizing jasmine spice. Steep fresh or dried jasmine spice flowers in the liquid called for in a recipe. For example, add washed jasmine spice flowers to milk and simmer without scorching the milk for about 20 minutes. Use this flavor-infused milk to make cupcakes, along with some orange zest for a pleasing citrus and floral flavor. Use the leftover jasmine milk to make buttercream frosting for the cupcakes. Simmer jasmine spice with equal parts sugar and water to make a simple syrup that can be used for cocktails or even pancakes. Steep jasmine in gin or other clear spirits for at least one hour. Mix olive oil, vinegar, jasmine spices and your choice of spices together to make a dressing. Refrigerate for several hours and strain before using.
It takes several hours to infuse foods with jasmine flavor, but adding jasmine spice directly to foods gives immediate flavor and fragrance. Toss some fresh jasmine flowers in a light salad to enjoy the slightly sweet floral flavor along with a light vinaigrette dressing. Top jasmine and orange cupcakes with a sprinkle of fresh or dried jasmine and an orange wedge for extra flavor and bonus presentation points. Garnish a jasmine-flavored cocktail with an open jasmine flower to enjoy the strong fragrance each time the drink is lifted near the nose. To make candied jasmine blossoms, paint the blossoms with egg wash, sprinkle with them with superfine sugar and allow them to air dry before eating.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.