Lemon balm ice cream

Melissa (aka lemon balm) grows like stink – which is not surprising as it is a plant from the mint family, and anyone who has grown mint knows how vigorous that stuff is. Like verbena, lemon balm has a very distinctive lemony aroma, but cannot be eaten without some sort of processing. Lemon balm is great as an infusate and can be used to make tea or flavour oils. It can also be used to make ice cream. We have done this before with verbena, and the contrast is noticeable. The verbena ice cream has a stronger taste, and is very, very good. Lemon balm ice cream is a runner up – nice, but not as flavoursome as its sister.

The recipe given here takes principles from Simon Hopkinson and other and applies them to our trusty basic ice cream recipe.

Lemon balm ice cream

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
By Nigel Eastmond Serves: 6–8
Cooking Time: 20 mins


  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 large handful of fresh lemon balm leaves
  • 30g liquid glucose
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla pod
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 90 g caster sugar



Put the milk and cream in a pan with the lemon balm, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Stir in the glucose and vanilla seeds. Set aside for 1 hour to infuse.


Beat the egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and pale (use a stand mixer).


Strain the infused dairy into to the bowl with the eggs while whisking (just run the stand mixer and slowly put the cream in).


Scrape mixture back into the pan and heat slowly to 82˚C (use a thermometer) to thicken to coating consistency – do not boil or it will split). Strain to remove lumps and cool with some cling wrap on the surface to prevent skinning.


Churn the ice-cream in a machine, transfer to a plastic carton and freeze.


Hopkinson suggests this is served with raspberries. David Lebowitz prefers peaches or plums.

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