Mastic Ice Cream

I am away for a little bit to frolic in the country…..enjoy this scheduled post and I look forward to posting upon my return.

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I was most intrigued when I came across a recipe with the ingredient Mastic, something I never heard of. Apparently Mastic or Masticha is the resin obtained from the mastic tree produced exclusively on the Greek island of Chios. The sun-dried resin is tear shaped and it has a yellow or orange hue.

Mastic gum was the first chewing gum, the word masticate means to chew. When chewed, the flavor is bitter at first, but after a short time this bitterness goes away and the only thing that remains is its special aroma. In Greece mastic is used to prepare mastic liqueurs mastic like Mastichato, a spoon sweet known as “vanilla”, beverages, chewing gum, cakes, pastries, sweets, desserts, breads, and in cheese production.

Different countries have different uses for it. In Lebanon mastic is used in ice cream, sauces and seasoning. In Egypt mastic is used in the preparation of different vegetable preserves, as well as jams with a gummy consistency, and in meats and soups. In Morocco, mastic is used in the preparation of smoked foods. In Turkey it is widely used in desserts such as Turkish Delight, puddings, soft drinks and also in the preparation of Turkish Coffee on the Aegean Coast. In the Maghreb countries mastic is used mainly for cakes, sweets, pastries, and as a stabilizer in meringue and nougat.

Mastic has an interesting property where it can replace cornstarch and gelatin in desserts while adding its unique flavor.  Mastic can be a bit hard to find: your best bet is a Middle Eastern grocery store and Ebay. Good news is you do not need a lot in most recipes. In my research I came across many ice cream recipes with mastic (I am an ice cream nut after all) so once I got my hands on this ingredient I had to try it out.

I read in a few places that Mastic gives a certain chewiness to the ice cream when you eat it. That was a pleasant texture I really enjoyed. It is still ice cream but it is ever so slightly gummy. Very cool. And the taste? Best comparison I can give you is spruce bear soda. You have to try it to believe it. I love spruce beer so I loved the ice cream.

≡ Mastic Ice Cream ≡

1/2 teaspoon mastic resin crystals
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
1 pinch of ground vanilla (optional)

Directions:
1. Grind the mastic resin crystals in a mortar and pestle along with some sugar.
2. Heat the cream, milk, sugar and mastic in a sauce pan until it almost boils, about 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to low.
4. Temper the eggs and stir them into the cream.
5. Cook at low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
6. You may want to strain the mixture at this point to remove any bits that may have formed while warming.
7. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
8. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

16 comments to Mastic Ice Cream

  • Wow I am going to have to try and find mastic…this ice cream looks wonderful and I am so intrigued by the flavor 🙂

  • I am going to look for some mastic this morning, and will hopefully have found some by the time we meet for lunch! Oh, and I loved the rant above!
    🙂

  • Frolicking huh? Nice. When we went to Turkey a while back, Axel introduced me to kaimak dondurma, the most awesome, chewy ice cream I had ever tasted. It was exactly this. Isn’t it the best ever? When I came back I remembered being so surprised that it had not inundated North America. Do we open a shop?

  • You are always teaching me something new Evelyne 🙂 Hope your having a great time.

  • I’ve heard of mastic, but never really knew what it was or tried it. You always come up with such unique and yummy twists on all things sweet and savory (I’m also eyeing that garlic scape soup below, heavily!). Like Renata, I learned something new today! 🙂 It looks creamilicious. Hope you’e enjoying your frolic in the country!

  • 5 Star Foodie

    We had mastic ice cream in Athens and it was seriously amazing! I wish I could find mastic crystals around here.

  • I dont drink beer and never heard of the one you mentioned but when I don’t have some mastic (in arabic meskeh) laying round I feel deprived; of course, I use it as a (very pricey) gum and the chew on it is incredible, lasting for days weeks even! (mix with a little wax). I also love it in ice-cream, pastries, jams, anywhere really! (it is even used in shawarma in Lebanon).

  • I encourage you all to seek it out!

    Val, I found out about this ingredient through the Taste of Beirut blog a while back.

  • What a neat ingredient and it would give ice cream such a cool texture.

  • Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen

    Can you believe that I have lived in ignorance about mastic until this very moment when I read your post? And ok, I have NO idea what a spruce beer soda tastes like so let’s not even go there! LOL. I love the idea of a gummy ice cream, though, yes that would be sooo cool to eat… I’ve now got to hunt this stuff down, I think. Thanks for sharing your brilliance!

  • Liz

    Thanks for sharing the information about mastic…all new to me!The only mastic I know of is what my sister would treat her painting canvases with. Your ice cream looks marvelous!

  • I think “mastic” also means black rubber in French (although maybe it’s just in French from France), so my first reaction to your title was pretty confused. How do you find out about these ingredients?! Hope you enjoyed your vacay, see you soon!

  • How cool is that (in every sense of the word)! I definitely learned something new today! Have a great time (vacations?)

  • Ahah, ice cream again! I love the little history lesson! The fact that you mentioned Greece really makes me want to try this. I’ve never had spruce beer soda, but it sounds interesting.

    xx

  • Yes…I am familiar with mastic…had mastic ice cream when in Greece and Katerina gave me some which I still have to use…thank you for the reminder.
    Enjoy you time away Evelyne 🙂

  • Miss Susan

    Never in my life have I ever heard of someone “loving” the “taste” of spruce beer. lol Wouldn’t it be like drinking pure juniper berry juice or pine sap? blech… lol

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