Holding onto Summer with Cooling Herbal Treats




Regrettably the end of summer is fast approaching. We’re holding on to the pleasures of summer for as long as we can and we’re sure you are too. For years Tilia’s co-owner Rachel has been collecting and honing recipes for amazing tasting and refreshing summer delicacies and we have finally convinced her to open her recipe “vault” and share these with us. Once you taste them, you’ll understand why she values them so much!


It is easy to make these delicious cool herbal-based summer treats and you don’t need expensive equipment to do so. While it is lovely if you have an ice cream maker to churn some of the recipes, a bread pan will do and the rest of these scrumptious recipes can be made with either a blender, food processor, or in a pinch, an immersion blender can even do the job. Below we have given you recipes for herb-infused granitas (a Sicilian frozen fruit and shaved ice dessert), sorbets (a frozen fruit dessert like granitas, but smoother in texture) and classic ice cream (but with a herbal twist).



A few tips for success:


· Make sure your dairy products are the best possible. The whipping cream, milk and yogurt should be top quality and fresh, so they will have a rich, wonderful flavour and won’t curdle when heated. When we make ice cream ourselves, we always use milk products from Kootenay Meadows Farm, our local organic dairy (who make a pretty mean ice cream themselves and is worth a trip out to their farm for). We love their stuff so much we even use it to make soap in the shop!


· In the recipes we’re sharing we give you the instructions using fresh herbs, which is our preferred way to use the herbs when making these items, but it is fine to use dried herbs if that is all you have access to. Just make sure they are top quality and haven’t been sitting around on a store shelf or your spice drawer for years! Fortunately, more and more supermarkets are carrying organic, fresh herbs all year round which makes it easy to make these sweet treats anytime. If you do have to use dry herbs reduce the amount by 1/2 in the recipe.


· A little trick to ensure your granitas and sorbets stay a little bit softer and don’t ice up into hard clumps after being in the freezer for a few days – add alcohol. It is an optional addition but if you do choose to add it in you don’t need lots. A tablespoon of vodka or wine will do the trick. Of course, if you do want to have a bit of a flavour kick you can add more alcohol to your formula, anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the liquid added to the recipe can be alcohol.


· Be creative and adventurous – add your favourite herb or a totally new one; play with fruit and herb flavour combinations; and do be playful – yes, it is okay to put sprinkles on your ice cream, even if you are 50 years old!





Peach and Lemon Verbena Granita

(Makes 2 cups)


1-pound sweetest fresh ripe peaches, pitted, peeled, and cut into medium dice

1/2 cup superfine/berry sugar or more to taste

1 cup water

1/4 cup chopped fresh lemon verbena leaves (this recipe is equally good using lemon thyme leaves)

1 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste

Lemon verbena sprigs for garnish


In a small saucepan, bring peaches, sugar, and water to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the peaches are tender and the sugar is completely dissolved. Off heat, drain peaches, reserving the poaching liquid, and puree them in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste; sweeten with some reserved poaching liquid if desired. Add chopped lemon verbena and let stand for 15 minutes, then strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste; add enough to make a sweet-tart mixture. Freeze mixture in ice cube trays until solid. In a blender or food processor, pulse 6 frozen granita cubes until mixture forms coarse crystals. Continue adding frozen granita cubes until processed. Serve immediately in chilled martini glasses or dessert dishes garnished with verbena sprigs.


Grapefruit-Rosemary Granita

(Makes 3 cups)


1 cup water

1/2 cup superfine/berry sugar

2 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice

2 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary

Rosemary sprigs for garnish


In a medium saucepan, heat water and sugar over medium heat until sugar ­dissolves. Add grapefruit juice and rosemary sprigs and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from the heat, cover, and steep for 10 to 30 minutes, or until mixture has reached desired rosemary ­flavour. Remove rosemary sprigs and let mixture cool completely. Freeze mixture in ice cube trays until solid. In a blender or food processor, pulse 6 frozen granita cubes until mixture forms coarse crystals. Continue adding frozen granita cubes until processed. Serve immediately.


Mint and Watermelon Granita

(Makes 4 – 6 cups)


2/3 cup superfine/berry sugar

6 sprigs mint, washed and patted dry

1 medium watermelon, preferable seedless

4 lemons, juiced


In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup of water and the sugar to a boil, then simmer for 5 to 6 minutes until syrupy. Remove from the heat and add 4 mint sprigs, stir and leave to infuse. Strain when cool.


Pick the leaves off the remaining mint leaves and set aside. Scoop the pink flesh of the watermelon out, avoiding the white inside part and discarding any seeds. In a blender, blitz the watermelon flesh with the picked mint leaves and strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Add the watermelon juice to the sugar syrup, and gradually stir in the lemon juice, tasting as you go to make sure it isn’t too lemony for you. Pour the mixture into a shallow container and put in the freezer. Mash it up with a fork every hour or so and return to freezer. Allow at least 7 hours (depending on your freezer) before it is ready.


Rosemary-Lavender Granita

(Makes 3 cups)


3 cups water

9 tablespoons honey

1 ½ teaspoons fresh lavender flowers or leaves

2 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary

Rosemary or lavender sprigs for garnish


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients except the garnishes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover, and steep 20 minutes. Freeze mixture in ice cube trays until solid. In a blender or food processor, pulse 6 frozen granita cubes until mixture forms coarse crystals. Continue adding frozen granita cubes until processed. Serve immediately.





Pineapple-Lemon Verbena Sorbet

(Serves 4)


3 to 4 fresh lemon verbena leaves, partially cut up

1 can frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed but still cold

2½ cups cold water (or about 2 juice cans of water)


In blender, place the lemon verbena leaves, pineapple juice concentrate and 1 cup of the cold water. Blend well until the leaves are completely pulverized. Add the remaining water and pour the mixture into a hand-cranked or electric sorbet mixer. Freeze until firm. Serve in previously frozen bowls. The sorbet stays firmer that way when serving it on a warm summer day.


Fresh Minted Lime Sorbet

(Serves 4 to 6)


1½ cups water

1½ cups sugar

1/3 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves (spearmint, peppermint, etc.)

2½ cups fresh lime juice (about 12 limes)


In a saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let syrup cool. In a blender, puree syrup and mint leaves until well pulverized. Add lime juice and chill, until completely cold, about 1 hour. Freeze according to instructions of ice cream or sorbet maker.


Blackberry Basil Sorbet

(Serves 4 to 6)


1 cup water

2 cups sugar

4 or 5 fresh basil leaves (opal, cinnamon or any of your favorite basils work for this)

3 cups blackberry juice (use bottled, or make by cooking down fresh or frozen blackberries, straining and reserving the juice, and adding water if needed)

Juice of ½ lemon


In a blender, combine the water, sugar, basil leaves and half the blackberry juice. Blend well to dissolve the sugar (or you can heat half the juice and dissolve the sugar if you desire; the blender method works faster though). Blend the leaves until well pulverized, add the remaining blackberry and lemon juice, and chill well, about 1 hour, before pouring into sorbet or ice cream mixer. Serve as a dessert with a basil leaf garnish. Blackberry Basil Sorbet is a beautiful deep, maroon colour that looks stunning served in a tall champagne glass that’s been frosted first.



Making Ice Cream Without an Ice cream Maker


You don’t need an expensive ice cream maker to make yummy ice cream. You can make delicious creamy treat using a loaf pan and get reasonably similar results. Follow the simple steps below and you will have ice cream in no time.


Step 1 - Pour the ice cream into the chilled metal loaf pan, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface, wrap the container with more plastic wrap and freeze until the mixture is thick and creamy, like soft-serve, about 2 hours.



Step 2 - If your recipe wants you to add chunky items to your ice cream, gently fold them into the mix now. Bits of chocolate, candy or candied nuts are all great additions.


Step 3 - Put the covered loaf pan back in the freezer and freeze for 3 more hours before testing to see if it’s scoopable. If not, freeze for longer. If it’s scoopable, you are ready to enjoy your delicious summer treat.



French Vanilla Ice Cream

(Makes 1 litre)


This basic recipe is rich but not overpowering. It makes a wonderful foundation for all of the herbal ice creams we have listed below, and you can also use it to develop your own ice cream creations, herbal or otherwise.


1-1/2 cups whipping cream

1-1/2 cups milk

2/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a heavy 2-quart saucepan or double boiler over medium-low heat, stir and heat the cream, milk, and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Do not boil. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks lightly. While whisking, pour 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the bowl, then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon (don’t let the mixture boil; it could curdle) for about 8 minutes, or until it begins to thicken and it coats the spoon. To test for doneness, dip a metal spoon into the mixture and run your finger across the back. The custard is done when your finger leaves a clear, clean trail. A candy thermometer should read 175° to 180°F. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Use the prepared base in one of the following recipes, or enjoy it frozen as is, garnished with edible flowers.


Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream


1 batch French Vanilla Ice Cream (see previous recipe)

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup hard-packed fresh spearmint leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh spearmint leaves


While heating the ice cream base, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water, stirring occasionally. You want to melt the chocolate with as low heat as possible. Remove from the heat, pour about 1 cup of the prepared hot ice cream base into the melted chocolate and whisk until well blended. Pour the chocolate mixture back into the remaining vanilla base and whisk again. Stir in the hard-packed mint leaves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Strain the mixture and add the chopped mint leaves. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or make in a loaf pan as described above.



Cherry Anise-Hyssop Ice Cream


¼ cup fresh loosely packed anise -hyssop leaves, coarsely chopped plus 1 tablespoon anise-hyssop leaves finely chopped

1 batch French Vanilla Ice Cream (see recipe above)

2/3 cup fresh cherries, pitted


Stir the ¼ cup anise-hyssop leaves into the hot ice cream base. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (the longer the mixture steeps, the stronger the flavour will be). Strain the ice cream base and lightly whisk in the 1 tablespoon of finely chopped anise-hyssop until just incorporated. Then very gently fold the cherries into this. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or make in a loaf pan as described above.


Rose Ice Cream


2 tablespoons chopped rose-scented geranium leaves

1-1/2 cups loosely packed rose petals, white bases removed

1 batch French Vanilla Ice Cream (see above)

1 to 3 teaspoons rose water (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped pink rose petals; white bases removed


Stir the geranium leaves and the 1-1/2 cups of rose petals into the hot, prepared ice cream base. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (the longer it is refrigerated, the stronger the flavour will be). Strain the mixture and add rose water to taste, if desired. Stir in the chopped rose petals. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or make in a loaf pan as described above.


Lavender Ice Cream


2 rounded tablespoons fresh lavender blossoms

1 batch French Vanilla Ice Cream (see recipe above)

1 rounded teaspoon chopped fresh lavender blossoms


Stir the 2 tablespoons of lavender blossoms into the hot ice cream base. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight (the longer it is refrigerated, the stronger the flavour will be). Strain the mixture and add the additional chopped lavender blossoms and the optional food coloring. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or make in a loaf pan as described above.


Lemon Herb Ice Cream


Zest of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup hard-packed lemon verbena leaves

1/4 cup hard-packed lemon balm leaves

1 batch French Vanilla Ice Cream made with only 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract instead of the full amount (see recipe above)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped lemon balm leaves


Stir the lemon peel, lemon juice, and hard-packed lemon herbs into the hot ice cream base. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Strain the mixture and add the chopped lemon balm leaves for colour. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or make in a loaf pan as described above.




Decadent Fresh Lemon & Lavender Ice Cream

(Makes 6 cups)

3/4 cups granulated sugar Zest of 2 lemons 1/2 cup fresh lavender or 1/4 cup dried lavender 2 cups whole milk 2 cups heavy cream 8 egg yolks 12 thin slices of fresh lemon 12 small sprigs of fresh lavender In a saucepan, combine lemon zest, lavender, milk and cream. Bring to a boil. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture. Mix thoroughly. In a steady stream, slowly add the egg mixture to the hot cream mixture. Continue to cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Strain the mixture. Add the mixture to the electric ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturers directions or make in a loaf pan as described above.

Frozen Lemon-Ginger Yogurt

(Makes 6 cups)


1 carton plain low-fat yogurt, (750ml/ 16-ounce)

2 cup coffee cream or whip cream (whichever you prefer)

1/2 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Honey

3 tbsp. Fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. Minced peeled fresh ginger

2 tsp Minced lemon peel

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

1/4 tsp Ground ginger


Combine all ingredients in large bowl and stir to blend. Transfer yogurt mixture to ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturer's instructions or make in a loaf pan as described above. Spoon into large, covered container and freeze.


Low Fat Strawberry Mint Frozen Yogurt

(Makes 3 cups)


2 cup Fresh strawberries, or frozen

1/2 cup tightly packed spearmint leaves

1/2 cup Sugar

2 cup Plain low-fat yogurt


In a food processor process strawberries, spearmint, and sugar until smooth. Spoon into saucepan; cook, stirring over medium heat for 7-9 minutes or until sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool completely; stir in yogurt. Freeze in ice-cream maker according to manufacturers directions or make in a loaf pan as described above.



So, get out the deck chairs, stretch out and soak up the last of summer taste testing these fabulous recipes!

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