I have deep nostalgia for picking honeysuckle during my childhood. I was maybe eight or nine years old and given free reign to play wherever I wanted within a three block radius. My best friend and I were partners in crime - we built giant snow piles in the fall, huddled under makeshift igloos in the winter, and in the spring rode our bikes with chocolate milkshakes in one hand to explore the nearest park. The summer was special. We would sneak to her neighbor's yard where walls of honeysuckle bushes, in my memory at least three times my height, lined the house bursting with the sweet smell of honeysuckle blossoms. She taught me how to pinch the end and slowly pull back to reveal the "string" and continue carefully pulling until the center, acting as a plunger, reached the end and brought with it a single droplet of sweet nectar. We would stay there, picking flowers and tasting nectar until we spotted the neighbors and made our swift exit - giggling the whole way home.
I was running around the reservoir across the street from our house this summer and the familiar smell of honeysuckle hit me hard. I didn't see any flowers and at first I thought I had imagined it, but they say scent is the closest tied sense to memory and I knew they were there.
The next week I went back with a friend to find the honeysuckle blossoms and tracking only with my nose, we found two bushes ripe with flowers. This time it was my turn. I taught her how to pinch the end, pull back the string, and taste the single sweet drop that made it all worth it. We picked the bushes clean and brought our haul home. Together, we infused the blossoms into olive oil and let it intensify for six weeks. I then spun it into ice cream made with local milk and cream. The result was intensely floral with the mellow taste of olive oil coming through with every spoonful. Dark chocolate was the perfect balance to add a bitter note and counteract the sweetness.
This ice cream is extremely special to me. It transports me back to my childhood where I didn't have any cares except what new adventure we were going on that afternoon. It connects me to my current environment and makes me appreciate that time I put in to create something collaborative. I can't get enough of this ice cream and if honeysuckle was a part of your childhood or something you've never had before, you won't regret this unique recipe.
Honeysuckle Olive Oil
- Measure 1 cup of honeysuckle blossoms and use a glass measuring cup to pack the blossoms down tightly. Don't worry if some of the blossoms get crushed during this step.
- Pour the blossoms into a large plastic bag and seal it; squeezing out as much air as possible. Lay the bag out on on a solid surface, shaking the blossoms so they fall in a single layer inside the bag. I used my vacuum sealer to get a super good air-tight seal during this step.
- Roll a rolling pin over the blossoms, until they are bruised and begin to break. You are aiming to break the petals up, not pulverize the blossoms completely.
- Dump the blossoms into a wide mouthed mason jar.
- Warm 1 cup of olive oil to about 150 degrees (I used a candy thermometer for this step)
- Pour the warmed olive oil over the blossoms in the jar, and stir with a clean butter knife to remove any air bubbles.
- Allow the oil to cool (30-45 minutes) and then seal the jar tightly. Cooling the oil will prevent condensation from forming inside the jar
- Place the jar in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks. The back of the pantry is idea - just don't forget about it!
- Strain the solid materials from the oil using a coffee filter, fine cheesecloth, or fine mesh sieve.
- Pour the remaining oil into small, dark-colored bottles with a good seal. The dark bottles keep light from reaching the oil which can turn it rancid. Oil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
Honeysuckle Olive Oil Ice Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1+1//2 oz (3tbsp) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup honeysuckle olive oil
- Mix about 2 tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry
- Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth and set aside
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside
- Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry
- Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high and cookie, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until lightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. All the honeysuckle olive oil and whisky until well blended.
- Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon zip top freeze bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as needed, until cold, about 30 minutes
- Pour the ice cream based into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. My KitchenAid ice cream attachment took about 20 minutes
- Pack the ice cream into a storage container and press a piece of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours (I find it's best overnight)
Ice Cream Recipe adapted from Jeni's Spendid Ice Creams at Home
Chocolate "Magic" Shell:
- 1 cup 72% dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a double boiler or heat proof bowl set over 1" of boiling water. Stir until melted and smooth. Allow to cool completely before putting over ice cream. Store at room temperature.