Ice Cream Surprise

Herbs and flowers for flavor and color.

| August/September 1996

  • Who wouldn’t love a lick of these? Rose Ice Cream, Lemon Ice Cream, and, in the background, Lavender Ice Cream.
  • Creamy, dark, and rich: Chocolate Mint Ice Cream


The recipes given here are appropriate for any of the ice-cream makers currently on the market. Follow the manufacturer’s freezing instructions. After freezing, let your ice cream “ripen” in the freezer of your refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to blend the fl­avors and stiffen the consistency so that it’s easier to scoop.

Custard-based ice creams are best eaten within a few days of making because long storage can adversely affect their flavor and texture. However, few people have the problem of leftover homemade ice cream. Mine seems to disappear within minutes.

For me, homemade ice cream always conjures up memories of carefree summer days. When I was a child growing up in southern California, making vanilla ice cream in an old-fashioned, hand-cranked mixer was our family’s favorite summertime ritual. As the youngest of four children, my job was to sit on top of the old mixer, holding it steady while my elder sister and brothers took turns vigorously cranking the handle. When they’d all had a turn and the cranking began to get difficult, I’d jump off, and with great anticipation, we’d carefully lift the lid and peer down to catch a glimpse of the creamy white dessert that had appeared in the cylinder as if by magic.

I still enjoy making homemade ice cream, but my recipes today go well beyond plain vanilla; I especially like to find new flavor inspirations in my herb garden. Although there are many good ice creams on the market today, none has the character and flavor of the ice creams that I make myself and flavor with herbs and flowers from my garden. The subtleness of rose petals and lavender blossoms, the tangy punch of lemon balm and lemon verbena, the freshness of mint, and the sweetness of aniseed: see for yourself what kind of magic herbal flavors contribute to this old American favorite.

Frozen in time

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