Kalamata Olive Ice Cream

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I’m not sure how to break it you but this ice cream has olives in it…Kalamata olives that is! Before you begin to make funny faces, squint, bunch up and raise your nose at me, let me explain. First, the olives in this ice cream do not have the briny lemon flavour that one is accustomed to when eating Kalamata olives. This isn’t ice cream with a Greek salad topping!

I first saw a recipe for Kalamata ice cream at Monambelles (blog is in German) and from what I understand (no, this isn’t another case of loss in translation), their inspiration for the peculiar ice cream came from Greek-Australian Chef George Calombaris (Master Chef fame). George has served up Greek food with ‘twists’ for many years and it comes as no surprise that he would concoct Kalamata olive ice cream.

Kalamata olives in ice cream, eh? First off, the first step in making the olives compatible with ice cream was to remove the savory, briny flavour of them. This is done by simply soaking the olives in water to draw out the salt from the olives. This is method is similar to what’s done with salt cod fish. I changed the water twice until the olive were no longer salty to the taste. I stripped the olives back down to their almost natural taste…almost.

Those who live in parts of the world that grow olives will know that olives can often be bitter and one of the methods to making olives edible are to soak them in water (changed daily) until the bitterness is gone. Another method is to salt cure them and then all the varying flavours (like lemon, vinegar, spices) are added in, depending on personal tastes.

The Kalamata olives used for this ice cream tastes something like a black cherry but that sweetness isn’t there. Next step was to making a simple syrup by boiling water and sugar and steeping the olives in it. Now we’re ready to make Kalamata ice cream! The usual ingredients show up now: whole milk, cream, egg yolks, some vanilla extract, sugar and I’ve added some re-hydrated dry figs and a shot of Ouzo. Olives and figs pair well and they were a natural in this Kalamata olive ice cream.

If the olives weren’t enough for you, I even have some fruity Greek extra-virgin olive oil added at the end of the ice-cream making process. I’m no fool, this is stretching  an ingredient and telling someone to try Kalamata olive ice cream will invoke some food prejudices but you think I told my friends they were eating Kalamata ice cream? HELL NO! They were given a bowl of mystery ice cream – they all loved it and some even guessed it contained olives. Go figure!

Kalamata Olive Ice Cream

2 cups of pitted Kalamata olives

1/2 cup of dried figs

1 shot of Ouzo

1 1/2 cups of whole milk

1 1/2 cups of cream (or evaporated milk)

1 cup of sugar

splash of vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Pit your olives and place in a bowl and enough water to just cover them. Drain the water after a couple of hours and taste the olives. You will likely have to replenish the water and soak the olives for another hour or two.
  2. To sweeten the olives, place a pot on the stove-top with  1 1/2 cups of water, juice of half an orange plus 3/4 cup sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. Simmer for 6 minutes, take the pot off the heat and allow the olives to cool in the liquid. Strain and drain and reserve a half cup of olives and purée the rest in a food processor. In the meantime, rehydrate the dried figs in enough hot water to just cover them in a bowl. Chop the figs when softened and reserve.
  3. To make your ice cream, add the milk and vanilla extract into a pot and bring up to just scalding heat (medium heat). In another bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar and whisk until creamed. Use a ladle to slowly add the scalded milk into the creamed eggs and sugar while continuously whisking. Once all the milk has been added into the egg/sugar mixture, pour back into the pot and stir the ice cream base with a wooden spoon over medium heat until thickened enough to just coat the spoon. Allow the base to cool then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for at least four hours.
  4. When the ice cream has sufficiently cooled, time to make ice cream. Slice the reserved olives and add them to the bowl with the chopped figs and toss with a shot of Ouzo. Take the chilled ice cream bowl out of your freezer and insert it into your ice cream maker. Pour the chilled ice cream base in and turn on your ice cream maker. Churn for 25 minutes then add the chopped figs, sliced olives (and the Ouzo) into the ice cream. Pour in the olive oil and after five minutes the ice cream should be well-blended.
  5. Remove the ice cream and transfer to a tub/container and place in the fridge overnight. Serve this special ice cream and watch your friends as they enjoy…Kalamata olive ice cream!

© 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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14 Comments for “Kalamata Olive Ice Cream”


That ice cream is intriguing! I really love kalamata olives and I’m sure they add an interesting je-ne-sais-quoi to this treat.




I was trying to remember where I had seen this before…and then I remembered George’s recipe. It sounds quite interesting, especially the thought process behind removing the brine from the olives. A great effort overall Peter!



Wow. Now THIS is interesting. One more reason to buy the ice cream maker I’ve been wanting for ages. This may well be the first recipe I try in it. One question, though. Your recipe states,

1 1/2 cup whole milk 1 1/2 cup cream (or evaporated milk)

Does this mean *either* whole milk, or cream, or evaporated milk, or should the recipe read –

1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup cream (or evaporated milk)

I’m sure this is obvious to experienced ice cream makers, but it’s not obvious to me!


That is one interesting ice cream flavor! I love the addition of olive oil as one of my favorite desserts is soft serve with olive oil & sea salt.


This is amazingly creative! Love the idea of olives in the ice-cream..I will have to muster up the courage to make this ice-cream..Have never, ever made ice-cream before and don’t have an ice-cream maker either…So, will have to get the gadgets prior to giving this a try…I am intrigued and will defo give it a go….

Great space!



Your Ice-Cream looks delicious! It has an unexpected taste and your are totally right: there are black-cherry flavours and… maybe also chocolate?