This recipe only has two ingredients – jasmine flowers and butter. When I first read the recipe in the Hornyold family manuscript at the Clark Library (MS.2012.011), I knew that jasmine was blooming in the garden outside. It was the perfect occasion to try it.
The Hornyolds were a well-established Catholic family. They began keeping this recipe book in the 1660s and a few of the recipes included show connections to their religion through mentions of feast and fast days and references to the liturgical calendar, such as this recipe “To pott mushrooms to keep till Lent.”
Although “Jessimin butter” does not appear to be connected to the family’s confessional identity, it does include seasonal notes. Ideally, this recipe should be made with “the first may-butter” and, of course, freshly flowering jasmine. I highly recommend that you make this butter when jasmine is in bloom.
Take some of the first may-butter, & wash it out of
the salt & buttermilk;, then spread it thin on 2 pewter
dishes fill one dish with: Jessimin-flowers & cover it with
the other; you must change the flowers every day
or 2, & now & then take off the butter, & lay it on again.
when you find it perfumed enough, put it up in pots.
1/2 cup butter (I used Kerrygold cultured, salted butter)
1 cup jasmine flowers, loose
Two plates with rounded edges that can hold material between them
Divide the butter in half as slice it thinly. Spread, place, or arrange the butter onto the two plates.
Put the jasmine flowers on top of the butter on one plate. Cover with the other.
Rest at room temperature overnight.
Spread on hot toast in the morning.
Infused with the heady scent of jasmine, the butter delighted my senses as I spread it on my morning toast. I could smell the flavor much more than I could taste it.
When I shared the butter with colleagues at the library, they were struck by how strong the scent was after one night. They were also eager to take some home.