Cow Parsnip Ice Cream

Cow parsnip has herbal and citrusy notes that I’ve used to great advantage in ice cream flavored with immature cow parsnip and orange peel. Cow parsnip’s flavors are extracted by steeping it in milk and cream. Interestingly, I discovered cow parsnip’s flavor strengthens over time, something to keep in mind if the ice cream won’t all be eaten right away. I tested the recipe with varying amounts of cow parsnip. For cow parsnip neophytes, I recommend starting with the lower amount in the recipe below. Most of my tasters liked it best with 1 cup of cow parsnip; others (including me) preferred the greater amount. Some who didn’t like plain cow parsnip ice cream fell in love when it was paired with fresh strawberry compote (sliced strawberries mixed with a little sugar and marinated for at least 1 hour) or with strawberry preserves. If you want to get fancy, garnish each serving with a Cow Parsnip Chip. I also used steeped cow parsnip, cream, milk, and grated lemon peel as the base for Cow Parsnip Panna Cotta. You could also use it for custard or pudding.

The recipe was tested with immature cow parsnip stems and leaves harvested during the plant’s first two weeks of new spring growth. As always when working with cow parsnip, be sure to wear gloves until the cow parsnip is cooked to protect against furanocoumarins in the stem hairs and sap.

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped immature cow parsnip stems and leaves
  • 2 tsp. finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 egg yolks

Mix milk, cream, and chopped cow parsnip in saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture reaches temperature, turn off heat and let it steep for 30 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain mixture into bowl, pressing down to remove as much liquid from solids as is possible. Discard solids.

Return liquid to saucepan and reheat. Put egg yolks in bowl used for straining, and whisk them well. Slowly pour 1 cup of hot liquid into eggs, whisking the entire time to prevent liquid from cooking eggs (this is called tempering eggs). Whisk tempered eggs back into saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring regularly and being sure to scrape bottom of pan, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon. Strain custard back into bowl and refrigerate until cool.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve with fresh strawberries or strawberry preserves, and garnish with Cow Parsnip Chip.

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