Mediterranean cuisine and Greek cuisine in particular is one of my favorites and I am always on the lookout for new things to try. I recently came across a new Greek ingredient, mastic on two of my favorite Greek food blogs Greek Food R & R and Kalofagas . Mastic is the resin that comes from an evergreen tree found on the Greek island of Chios. When a mastic tree is scored, the resin “weeps” from the tree and the drops are dried by the sun. The mastic resin definitely has a resiny flavour and it has an aroma that reminds me of pine trees. Mastic is commonly used to make gum, liqueur and it is used as a spice in sweet and savoury dishes.
Once I heard about this new ingredient I just had to try. I was having difficulty tracking some down when a kind reader from Greece, Lillian offered to send me some along with some mastic gum. I was able to track down some mastic liqueur at the lcbo but they had less than a half a dozen bottles left in all of Toronto and at an out of the way location. I made a special trip to pick up a bottle and I was ready to try out the mastic resin and the mastic liqueur.
The first recipe to try on my list was a mastic shrimp saganaki that I had seen on Greed Food R & R . I had made a shrimp saganaki a while ago and really liked it! When I had made the shrimp saganaki the first time I had used ouzo as a flavouring so this time I just replaced the ouzo with the mastic and it turned out great. (I have updated the shrimp saganaki post with the results!)
When Lillian sent the mastic crystals she suggested a few things to try and one of them was adding mastic to a vanilla ice cream. Given that the weather has been nice and warm the last few days I thought that it was the perfect time to pull out the ice cream maker and make some ice cream. I decided to use my basic ice cream recipe and I added both some ground up mastic resin and a splash of the mastic liqueur. I did not use a full vanilla bean as I wanted the mastic flavour to be the star of the show but I did use vanilla sugar to add an undertone of vanilla to the ice cream. The mastic ice cream was just as easy as any other ice cream to make and it turned out really well. The mastic aroma coming from the ice cream was amazing and the flavour was just as good. I was not counting on how sweet the mastic liqueur was and the ice cream turned out a bit too sweet. No problem, I decided to serve the ice cream with a sour cherry sauce to balance out the sweetness and it worked like a charm. The sour cherry and mastic flavours paired really well! I topped it all off with some chopped pistachios for some contrasting colour and texture. Speaking of texture, the ice cream was just slightly gummy which was a really pleasant surprise. I am now looking forward using mastic again.
Mastic Ice Cream
- 1/2 teaspoon mastic resin crystals
- 1/2 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 splash masticha liqueur
- Grind the mastic resin crystals in a mortar and pestle along with some sugar.
- Heat the cream, milk, sugar and mastic in a sauce pan until it almost boils, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low.
- Temper the eggs and stir them into the cream along with the masticha liqueur.
- Cook at low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
- You may want to strain the mixture at this point to remove any bits that may have formed while warming.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge.
- Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.
Very cool! (sorry bad pun). I’ve never used mastic myself but you’ve totally made me want to try it ASAP.
Intriguing! How fortunate that you were able to get all the ingredients you needed.
your Ice cream look awesome!! ice and beauty pics!! xGloria
Wow….got to learn something new! Looks really nice and I’m sure it tasted amazing!
Good God that looks amazing! Wish I can just stick my spoon across the screen and have a taste. 🙂
Culinary Cory says
Now I’m going to have to go exploring to see if I can find this in Pittsburgh.
What an interesting ingredient!
rekhas kitchen says
so mouthwatering wish i could taste that yum
There is a mastic ice cream place in Jaffa, Israel for at least 50 years. I think Mastic is Arabian not Greek.
Rosa's Yummy Yums says
So pretty and tempting! Surely delicious!
I have always thought mastic is used in ice cream for the texture but not for the flavour, so it was interesting to read about your mastic ice cream.Like one of the commenters already wrote, here we have had a place with mastic ice cream for decades…and it really has a bit different texture than other ice creams.
Peter M says
Kevin, the aroma of the mastic and vanilla must have been intoxicating! The ice cream sounds like a fabulous ice cream flavour and I’m delighted you enjoy the ingredient so much.
Thanks again for the link and kind mention.
Hmmmm really unusual but I bet it was wonderful – it looks so by the beautiful photo. And with cherry sauce? Yummy!
I know that mastiha ice cream,also known as kaimaki,can be found in Istanbul,Turkey,and it is very often served with a syrupy sour cherry ‘spoon sweet’,pretty much like the one Kevin used,so,good choice Kevin!I think it’s natural that this spice found its way into the cuisine of nearby countries such as Israel.We use many eastern spices in our cooking here in Greece..Now the mastiha tree is apparently very picky,since it only grows in the southern part of the Greek isle of Chios,and nowhere else in the world!!(!),including Greece,and the rest of Chios itself!
That sounds great… you have garnished it so nicely 🙂
This looks beautiful with the cherry topping. I can’t quite imagine what the taste is like.
Sam Sotiropoulos says
Kevin, we’re going to make a Greek out of you yet! Mastic makes a great ice cream flavour, nice work! And thank you(!) for the shout out, I am very pleased to learn you tried the Mastic Shrimp Saganaki recipe and that you enjoyed it. 🙂 Be Well, My Friend.
P.S. Am organizing a Toronto foodie TweetUp on the Danforth for May 31st, let me know if you’ll be joining us. Love to have you out!
great job at countering the unexpectedly sweet ice cream! the tartness I’m sure complemented the sweet aroma very well. It looks great!
Looks delicious! You always come up with some very interesting recipes!
The DeL Sisters says
Ah this sounds like something our mom would like!
Thanks for featuring an ingredient that I haven’t heard before. Yummy ice cream.
This one’s looking totaly great! :))
So interesting…thanks. Looks just like my buratta sundae (check it out under small bites, and it’ll give you a laugh)
I’ve learned to make ice cream in the past 6 months, and this is a great looking offering, Kevin!
Amy B says
I hope mastic tastes better than the spruce gum we chew in Maine 🙂
Well, most just try it once, not many who do make it a habit!
PS I do love your blog.
I’m not even going to try to look for it in my neck of the woods!
I’ve never had mastic before, you always introduce me to the coolest ingredients!
wow, this is the first time I’ve heard of mastic…now I think I shall have it embedded in my mind until I can get to try it for myself!
wholesale sweets says
Yes, I agree on what others commented. I also love this recipe. Thank you for sharing.
Rachana Vinay says
Kevin, I just love your recipes and your blog. I dont get some ingredients and vegetables that you use but that does not stop me from reading ur recipes. Awesome!!!
What an exotic ingredient for ice cream and looks so delicious as well!
Wow! mouthwatering & tempting icecream. Perfect for the summer.
i’ve never heard of mastic. love the colors!
The Cooking Photographer says
Friends like Lillian are so wonderful! You are lucky to have her.
The ice-cream looks wonderful. If only I could copy it lol!
Chocolate Shavings says
Ah.. if only I had an ice cream maker!
I never heard of mastic before. Something really new to me. Now you are getting me curious 🙂 By the way, beautiful picture of the ice-cream.
I have heard of mastic before, but only at the local Home Depot! I never realized it was edible or even could be made into anything that looked so delicious! I thought it was some sort of a glue-like substance used in construction? I wonder if the glue is made from the resin or if this is a totally different ingredient?
I’ve never heard of mastic before but it sounds so interesting. I’ll have to track down this ingredient to try it out myself! Thanks for the tasty recipe too 🙂
Looking good, Kevin!
Thank you for introducing us to this very interesting ingredient, Kevin!
sugar & spice says
The ice-cream looks delectable.
I’ve been going through your recipes and I’ll have to say they all look fantastic. I’m definitely going to try out a few back home.
Molto bello, senz’altro molto buoono…
This sounds heavenly! Gorgeous presentation! Yum!
Mastic seems to be all the rage right now Kevin. Your ice looks delectable. I am doing Strawberry today myself!
What an interesting ingredient. I am intrigued!
So interesting! I’m kinda intrigued about trying ice cream with juniper berries now…
I’ve never heard of mastic before. The ice cream looks fantastic – I could go for a bowl right now.
I wish I could get my hands on some mastic… It sounds so intriguing! And this ice cream definitely looks delicious.
Hey thnx for the posting of such a very delicious ice cream making method……recently i purchase an ice machine with the following site Discounts Ice Machines means you can also get discount to ice machines and with the using of that machine i am making many types of ice creams and i also tried your poatsed ice cream and i was osammmmmmmmmmmmmm…….thnx .
White Linen says
wow, this ice cream is awesome.Love it
Sean Robert says
Great use of mastic! It was great to see another foodie search for unique ingredients. I need a Lillian!! My "Magnolia House" kitchen in California will be looking forward to more ideas from Toronto!
Helen Koulinos says
Can you use Mastiha alcohol instead of the crystals and if so what quantity?
Yes you can! Use 1 tablespoon. Enjoy!