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Mastic Ice Cream

18 July 2014 / 08:07:18  GRReporter
3083 reads

Danielle Lachana

 

Chios, today's destination, is a unique island, because it is the only place whose mastic trees (officially 'Lentisks') actually produce mastic! Although mastic trees are found in other regions of the Mediterranean, only in the south of Chios do they weep the 'tears' (the resinous sap' which emerges upon cutting the bark of the tree) which harden to form the mastic drops for which the island is famous. This ability is attributed to the rich red volcanic soil there and the undersea volcanoes in this area of the Aegean which influence the local climate.

These mastic 'drops', also known as granules or crystals, are widely exported, sometimes also in a ready powdered form for cooking - but these are not so 'good' due to the addition of additives and other ingredients. Try to get pure mastic if you can for a truly authentic taste and texture, namely a bit chewy - actually the name 'Mastiha', as it is called in Greek, comes from the ancient Greek 'mastikhein’ which means “to chew” and from which the English word of the same meaning 'masticate' is derived. Not surprisingly, then, historically Chios mastic is believed to be the first ever natural chewing gum! Due to its pronounced  taste, it is best used sparingly! If you cannot find mastic, or do not like its particular taste, you can still make this recipe substituting around 2 tsp rosewater or orange blossom water to create a more 'oriental' version.

If you like, and cherries are in season, you can make your own syrup. A quick method is given at the end of this article.

***

 

RECIPE

(Serves 4)

 

 

METHOD

* Mastic can become inherently sticky so to prevent problems when you grind or pulverize it, first freeze it for about 15 minutes then add 2 tsp of the sugar to it. Put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin or hammer, or grind in a pestle and mortar, to obtain a powder.

 

Put the cornflour (cornstarch) in a bowl and add 100 ml of the milk. Do this gradually at first stirring until the cornflour has dissolved and ensuring that there are no lumps.

Pour the remaining milk into a, preferably non-stick, saucepan with the cream, sugar and the pulverized/ground mastic.

Put over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the mastic has dissolved.

Reduce the heat to low and add the milk in which you dissolved the cornflour. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened slightly and the cornflour does not taste raw.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. When cool enough put in the fridge and leave until thoroughly chilled.

If you have one, transfer the mixture into an ice cream maker or ice cream mixer attachment and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions until the desired consistency is obtained (around 30 minutes depending on the type of equipment used). Alternatively, pour the mixture into a shallow, preferably metallic container, tightly cover with aluminium foil and put in the freezer. Once the mixture starts to freeze around the edges transfer to a bowl and beat vigorously (most easily done  with a mixer). Return to the freezer container and put back to freeze removing every half hour or so and beating again to prevent the formation of ice crystals. Try to do this 4 - 5 times to obtain a suitable creamy consistency.

Scoop into bowls and drizzle over the sour cherry sauce to serve. Top with the chopped almonds or pistachios if liked.

 

Note: If the ice cream has become too hard when you remove it from the freezer leave it at room temperature for 10 - 20 minutes to soften.

 

Sour Cherry Syrup

To make your own, quick and easy sour cherry syrup, put 250 g of pitted, ripe, sour cherries in a saucepan with 250 ml water and 100 g sugar. Heat stirring until  the sugar has completely dissolved. Mash the cherries then strain through a sieve (press the cherries with the back of a spoon to extract the liquid). Cool the liquid then chill in the fridge. Note: If your cherries are not so sour you can add a little lemon juice to the water.

Tags: Ice Cream Mastic Mastiha Chios Mediterranean recipes
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