Basil’s Sweet (and Frozen) Side

lemon-basil-ice-creamMy basilophilic nature (yep, just made up that word) has spurred me to figure out yet another way to use my favorite summer herb: in ice cream. Freezing basil is pretty much only way you can chop, slice, or otherwise cut basil and still have it be green rather than chop, slice, or otherwise cut basil and have it turn black – cut basil quickly oxidizes at room temperature. Granted, judicious drying can preserve the greenness of whole leaves if you’re lucky, but drying basil takes time. Blending basil into milk and cream and then freezing it, on the other hand, is a snap.

Incidentally, basil is very high in omega 3 fats (4:1 ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s). Mint is, too (7:1). If you make this ice cream with milk from grass-fed cows* and yolks from pastured hens, you’ve moved your ice cream far out of the “junk” category and firmly into the “health food” category, especially since you’re using raw honey rather than white sugar and you’re including a heaping handful of fresh basil or mint. It’s all about the quality of the ingredients we use, folks, not what category the dish has traditionally been placed in. (Healthy ice cream vs. junky salad, for example; both are possible.)

Lemon & Basil Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups cream, preferably from grass-fed cows
1 1/2 cups whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
2 egg yolks, preferably from pastured hens
15 large basil leaves OR 20 large mint leaves
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon OR 1 lime (it’s worth getting organic since you’re using the outer skin)
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey depending on how sweet you’d like your ice cream to be

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Immediately pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to freeze your ice cream. Since this ice cream is not too high in fat (you’re cutting the cream half/half with milk) and it’s low in sugar (you’re using honey instead of white sugar, plus you’re using less of it overall – ah, the beauties of making your own ice cream!), it will be softest when it’s freshly made. If you have leftover ice cream to put in the freezer, you may need to take it out 10 minutes ahead of scooping it the next day so that it has time to transition from almost-sorbet-hard to scoop-able. You could use all cream rather than a cream/milk blend to make your ice cream thicker and smoother-scooping, but I prefer a lighter approach to such a summery-tasting ice cream.


* Remember that the legal definition of “organic” has nothing to do with whether an animal is grass-fed or is fed the conventional corn-and-soy blend. Many grass-fed operations – i.e., actual farms – do go to the trouble to be certified as “organic,” but we’re talking two different concepts here. Those of us living in Metro Detroit have the extreme fortune of having grass-fed Calder Dairy products available in our local markets. Organic Valley is another good choice.

Courtesy of Cultured Cook.

You may also like:

Trading the Moo! for a Baa! in your Ice Cream

Don’t Feel Guilty about Eating Dark Chocolate

Nutrition Quiz: Whipped Cream

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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