Pistachio Ice Cream With Mastiha

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I would to share the third recipe I’ve made using my recently purchased ice cream maker. I made this near the end of June and only just posting it now as I crave it, I want another scoop, another batch. I never used to like pistachio ice cream when I was young. I was turned off by the unnatural green flavour that was the usual. Later in life, I would also see some pistachio ice creams that didn’t have that colour but you also couldn’t tell what kind of ice cream it was – lacking in pistachios.

The greatest benefit to owning your own ice cream maker is making it the way you like it. I’ve made my pistachio ice cream with lots of pistachios: you know immediately what the flavour of the ice cream is, I use honey as a sweetener, and the unique spice of Mastiha from the island of Chios (pronounced HEE-Os). There’s a bit of vanilla extract, there’s three types of dairy, Greek yogurt, whole milk and evaporated milk. I like evaporated milk for that hint of sweetness and it’s a good substitute for full-fat cream.

Mastiha (mastixa, masticha, mastic) is a resin that drips off of the Pistachia lentus tree, only found on the southern part of the island of Chios. The Pistachia lentus tree is related to the pistachio and it’s use crosses culinary, health and beauty applications. The harvest of Mastiha occurs from June to September and concluded by December.

The use of mastic is prominent in Greek, Turkish and mid-eastern cuisines. It’s often found in recipes for cakes, breads, pies, creams and custards. Mastiha is used in many recipes for Tsoureki. Those of you who have tried this braided Greek Easter bread will have an idea of what mastiha tastes like. The flavour is hard to pin-down but it is unique: a slight floral bouquet, gummy in texture and taste. A little goes a long way.

Since the trees from which mastiha is harvested are related to pistachios, it seemed only natural to pair the two in this ice cream. The most famous pistachios in Greece are grown on the island of Aegina (near Athens). Pistachio trees were brought to the island from the late 19th century. Pistachios are harvested by knocking the branches with a stick or simply shaking the heck out of the tree. Both methods work, great outlet for relieving the stresses of the day.

The final component of this ice cream that I would like to expand on is the colour of the ice cream. I knew from the start that I didn’t want to use any artificial food colouring. I could have not used any colouring but I think a hint of green is expected with a pistachio ice cream. Not traditional but certainly more natural than a food die was to use some matcha powder, the stuff used to make instant green tea. A warm, creamy green colour is given to the ice cream and nothing is taken away from the ice cream’s main flavour profiles of pistachios, honey and mastiha.

Again, making ice cream is easy, you need a little imagination, follow some basic rules to producing a thick, creamy and smooth result and the rest is pure satisfaction and enjoyment. The icing on the cake is the pistachio praline…sugar, water and pistachios…an easy garnish for this wonderful, wholesome ice cream.

Pistachio Ice Cream With Mastiha (Παγωτό με φιστίκια Αιγίνης και Μαστίχα)

1 cup plain yogurt (full fat)

1 cup whole milk

1 Tbsp. of corn starch

2 cups evaporated milk (or cream if you’re feeling really decadent)

1 Tbsp. ground mastiha *

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 cup of shelled, unsalted and toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

3/4 – 1 cup of Greek honey

2-3 Tbsp. of matcha (powdered green tea)

Pistachio Praline

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup whole unsalted & shelled pistachios

oil for brushing

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add your milk, evaporated milk/cream, corn starch, ground mastiha, vanilla extract and place over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve the dissolve the corn starch and mastiha. Stir while bring the mixture up to a scalding heat. Take off the heat.
  2. Add the matcha powder and then add your honey and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool and then add pistachios yogurt and mix until well-blended. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.
  3. In the meantime, brush a baking tray with some vegetable oil and set aside. In a medium pot, add the sugar and water over medium heat. As soon as the mixture turns to a copper colour, remove from the heat, add your pistachios and quickly stir and then empty onto your oiled baking tray. Allow to cool. When the praline has hardened, break up with a mallet and reserve in a container.
  4. Take your pre-chilled freezer bowl and place on your ice cream maker. Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and turn on your ice cream maker. Churn/operate for 25 minutes or as per your ice cream machine’s instrcutions. Place in a container and cover. Place in your freezer overnight to set.
  5. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the refrigerated contents into a shallow container and place in the freezer (without a lid) for a 3-4 hours or until it just starts to harden. Now turn the mixture into a bowl and stir with a fork or whip with a hand mixer. Place the mixture back in your container and place in the freezer covered overnight.
  6. The next day, serve with some pistachio praline.

*Mastiha is bought in crystal form, small nuggets called tears. Place them in some plastic wrap in the freezer for about an hour.Now take the mastic and roll over with a rolling pin to crust the mastiha tears into a powder. Carefully remove the ground mastiha and add it to your recipe.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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39 Comments for “Pistachio Ice Cream With Mastiha”


Yummy yum yum… my favorite ice cream of all times! I love that you loaded it with whole pistachios too. i’m sure this is delicious.


Wow! I love how you used three types of dairy! I love evaporated milk! Great write up and nice to learn that pistachios and mastiha are related. You are seriously making me think of purchasing one of these gizmos for our summer!


The ice cream maker is still sitting on my shelves Peter. I really have to start using it. I never thought of using evaporated milk instead of cream. Thanks for the tip. Never heard of mastiha before reading it here. Can you tell me how many days you can keep fresh ice cream in the freezer. I have read 1-2 days.


A marriage made in heaven. It takes me back to the island of Kea and sitting under the arbor with mastic ice cream and some kind of pistachio cookie.


What a brilliant recipe, Peter! Pistachio ice cream is my favorite, and when in Greece, I usually get a Scoop of mastiha to go along with it. I had no idea that the mastiha tree is cousins with the pistach, cool!


Peter δροσίστηκα και μόνο που είδα το παγωτό σου!!!
Πολύ ζέστη στην Ελλάδα, έλα για μπάνια!!
Και αν προκύψει, φτιάχνουμε και κανενα παγωτάκι, έτσι??


You’re killing me again Peter, I like how you lightened it up without cream. Now you’re tempting me to get an ice cream maker…


I am one of those odd people traditionally that has never really cared much for ice cream- until now! I am sitting here drooling over this post!! Guaranteed, this will me made in Jedna’s kitchen this week!



That looks lovely. How much pistachio should you put in the praline?



Hi Peter,

Wow, that ice cream looks magnificent!
We’re in the wrong hemisphere for ice cream at the moment but that hasn’t quite stopped me from experimenting. I’ve made a dark chocolate mastiha ice cream thanks to an interesting flavour combination Ion chocolate released recently, but found the chocolate too overpowering and add 2-3tbs of ground mastiha in an attempt to bring out the delicate flavour. Hope to try out your version soon- love the combination of toffeed pistachios too- yum!


i was always freaked out by the neon green hue of store-bought pistachio ice cream, but this looks great! i’ll have to stay on the look-out for mastiha.


That looks marvelous, Peter. I make a lot of ice creams but never pistachio. Can’t imagine why because it is my favorite flavor at the ice cream store! Now I have a recipe…I’ll try it. Love the yogurt in it. And the pistachio praline looks perfect.
My mother used to layer pistachio ice cream in an angel food cake and stick it all in the freezer for our summer BBQs. We loved it.


Petah Petah, ice cream makah… love your ice cream adventures. Mastih {whatever} is obviously not available here, but I love that you used your imagination to colour it with matcha… WOW! Have checked, no snails in here, so I love this! That praline adds oooomph to it! YUM!


I love ice cream, and this looks absolutely delicious, congrats!!!!

I’m also into the food blog’s world and would be great if you can take a look at my blog and leave me a comment/suggestion.

Take care and keep posting!


Delicious looking ice cream, Peter. Pistachio gelato is actually one of my favorite foods, so this is right up my alley. I just had my yiayia bring me some mastiha from Greece, and I can’t wait to use it.


Lovely blog and yummy recipes. Lots of similar/same food.
A correction: mastiha is not a tree who lives only in Chios. In Turkey, just in front of Chios, in Çeşme there thousands of mastiha trees and a lot of recipes with mastiha. Pistachio ice cream with mastiha is delicious in Mytillini. Yasu!


Aybige, Mastiha trees exist in other parts of the Mediterranean but only in the southern part of Chios do the trees produced themastiha resin due to the unique natural environment, soil and weather conditions. combined with the long-traditional methods of how it’s been cultivated in Chios for centuries. Chios MAsticha is a Protected Designation of Origin product.


I am so making this recipe. I love pistachios and pistachio ice cream. But I confess to having been turned off by the custard base for so many ice creams – but your version has none of that. Its why I stick mostly to sorbets. I must say I was equally temped by the pistachio brittle next to the ice cream. What a wonderful looking desert.


Dear Peter, only last year, I visited Greece 4 times by motobike and in the 4th one, Chios was part of our travel. I visited all mastihorias and I have been in a mastiha garden (?) and saw all the process, produced fresh mastiha from the trees. For seeiing that the same thing and conditions and natural environment is existing in Turkey also, just visit Çeşme, Alaçatı, Urla in front and Chios. My favorite is Alaçatı. Yasu friend!


Dear Aybige,

I am so happy to see that you have visited Chios and the Mastiha Villages! Certainly there are the same trees in Tsesme as there are the same trees on the Northern portion of the island of Chios, and all trees produce resin. However Chios Mastiha (PDO) is EXCLUSIVELY produced in 24 villages on the island of Chios. The resin from these specific trees has a distinct aroma, color and importantly, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties not found in the other resins. In fact, the trees in this portion of Chios have been given “var. Chia” as their scientific variety name because of their production of this unique resin.

This is a well documented fact both by the seal of the Growers Association:

and also the PDO seal of the European Union:
which has designated the resin as “Chios Mastiha” because it is “produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how.”

The Chios Mastiha Growers Association has worked very hard to ensure that their product is protected and also recognized as truly unique to the geographical region on the southern portion of Chios. It has also been noted in many historical texts, too many to cite here, that Mastiha originates and can only be produced on the island of Chios.

I have visited Tsesme and will look forward to taking your advice on Alacati and checking out the various resins being cultivated there…




Pistachio ice cream varies so much in quality–some are good and a lot, not so good. Yours looks like winner. This has been on my to-do list (been really enjoying my ice cream maker too) but I’ve been looking for a recipe with no egg yolk. This is the second post I’ve seen that uses corn starch as a binder. Now I’ll have to try it, so thanks for posting. The use of matcha powder is very clever. :-)


I have been carving pistachio Icecream ever since I had it in Turkey. Like you I was never a big fan of it before that. This looks close, very close. Okay it looks better. Only now …if I can get an ice cream maker as gift!