We have already had our first light frost here in E. Ontario, and have lost some of the ‘delicates’ of our harvest. I am therefore gathering and using all the herbs I can, some of which I will preserve, but most I hope to use fresh while I can. One discovery I have made is that mixing herbs with any sort of dairy base is a great way to bring out the flavour, as it draws out the oil. Also, considering that herbs can be paired with so many fruits in salads or sweet dishes, there are so many more ways of using them than I have previously done. So with this in mind, I decided to make a herb and fruit ice cream, this time with peaches and anise hyssop, to share with Angie and guests at this week’s Fiesta Friday.
Anise hyssop, or licorice mint, is a hardy perennial of the mint family, and once you have it established, you are guaranteed a regular annual crop. Its leaves look like catnip leaves (same family) and its tall purple flowers which bloom in the late summer also resemble that plant. It is not exactly a weed, but like mint can be invasive, and therefore I include it in my list of backyard forageables. It has a deliciously sweet licorice flavour, and makes a wonderful tea, cordial, marinade or addition to many dressings and sauces. And because it does not have the bitter flavour of some herbs, you can use large amounts with impunity.
If you already have a favourite ice cream recipe, you can incorporate it into that if you like, as long as you can infuse some of the liquid you are using before making the ice cream. I made a simple custard based recipe because I find it stores best, as the eggs prevent crystallization.
Anise Hyssop and Peach Ice Cream
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp chopped anise hyssop leaves
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen peaches
1 cup heavy (35%) cream
1/3 cup sugar
3 well beaten egg yolks
Put the milk and herbs in a saucepan, heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow to stand another ten minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the peaches and put them aside.
Make the custard by heating the cream, sugar, and strained herb milk mixture until it almost reaches boiling point. Gradually pour this mixture in a slow stream into the eggs, stirring while you do it. When about have the cream mixture is mixed into the eggs, return it to the pan with the rest of the cream. Continue to heat and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about five minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then add the chopped peaches. Put it in the fridge to cool, then finish in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
This recipe can me made with other fruits and herbs, although hard fruits like rhubarb and apple will have to be cooked first.