Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sage Ice Cream

Sage Ice Cream, Grilled Peaches

People, it is hot. I know it's not considered good form to mention the weather in every blog post ever, but if the weather doesn't dictate what I want to eat, then I don't know what does. Maybe if I call it "micro-seasonal eating" or something?

Anyway, last week we had a couple days of rain which was oddly delightful after the very warm, blue skies, humid breeze end of July. The garden loved the water: the monster zucchini is climbing out of the pot, our cherry tomatoes have put forth a second round crop, the lemon verbena is up to my waist, and the rest of the herbs are very, very happy.

232/365: Sage

Back in June, still giddy from the first real month of garden fresh herbs, Adam asked me how I planned to use the bounty we had planted. Well, obviously basil gets whizzed into pesto, and Kalyn taught me to freeze thyme and rosemary. I used the lemon verbena in blueberry jam that we'll eat all year, and the bay can winter over on the enclosed front porch, but what about the sage? It freezes ok, and I'll probably freeze whatever's left toward the end of the season, but I had a hunch that sage would make a really interesting ice cream. When I searched for a recipe, the one that kept popping up was this one from a 2001 issue of Gourmet (moment of silence). However. Nine egg yolks? Psssh. Clearly not necessary. And I don't want to overload my ice cream maker, I know it can handle about 3 cups of liquid in the base, but not much more. So I tweaked and I fiddled and I came up with the recipe below. It went great with rhubarb pie (sans strawberry) back in June, and it was an excellent dessert accompaniment to the peaches we threw on the still-hot grill after we ate kabobs for dinner.

Peaches and Sage Ice Cream

Sage Ice Cream
adapted from Gourmet, October 2001
Makes about a quart

You can use just about any combination of dairy you like, as long as you get three cups total. The first time I made this I used two cups of heavy cream and a cup of whole milk. This time I used one and a half cups of each. You could get away with two cups of cream and a cup of 1% or 2% if you want, but don't wuss out and use skim milk, ok? Or if you do, don't blame me when your dessert is icy and wan. Fat is flavor, friends.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
3 strips lemon zest, 2 inches long
6 egg yolks
scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat the cream, milk, sage and zest in a medium sauce pot just until it boils. Turn off the heat and allow to steep for half an hour.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Temper the eggs: slowly add a cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs so they warm slowly and do not curdle, then add the egg mixture back to the pot of cream, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon. (By which I mean, if you run your finger over the back of the spoon, the trail it creates stays put and is not immediately overrun with cream again).

Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl, then press a layer of plastic wrap right onto the surface and chill for at least three hours or overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine, then freeze in an airtight container until ready to use.


  1. ooh, how intriguing! i hope you saved me a scoop :)

  2. I'm getting to the point where I have to figure out what to do with all my herbs. Sage ice cream sounds perfect! And the peaches look gorgeous! Great pairing...

  3. I resisted the urge to buy an icecream maker all season, because of a lack of appliance storage. But this sounds so delicious...

  4. I think this sounds like such a fabulous ice cream flavor. I can't wait to try it. I bet it would be tasty with gingerbread or another savory/spicy treat. Thank you for being daring and creative!

  5. Sounds lovely. I've never had herby ice cream but I feel like I know what it would taste like... no doubt complex and delicious! :D

  6. cold herb-y things are so delicious. i made this lemon-basil granita after i felt a little pesto-d out and still had lotsa basil hanging around. perhaps i'll try basil ice cream now...

  7. Hi, this sounds delish! I just found your blog via Marisa's Food in Jars.

    Quick question: Can you recommend a good ice cream maker? Thanks