Today’s Tomato Rosemary Mint Ice Cream admittedly might sound odd. But I assure you that it’s delicious and it comes with a tale of inspiration.
My friend, Jack, is an ice cream maker extraordinaire. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he makes ice cream several times a week and I’m talking throughout the year, not just during the summer.
His wife, who is one of my dearest friends, even ordered personalized ice cream cartons for him. Note: If you have an ice-cream making friend, this is a fun and well-received gift!
Recently, Jack and his ice cream making finesse have been featured locally in newspapers and on television. One very hot summer day in August, I happened by Jack and Fred’s for a late afternoon visit.
Jack offered cool and welcome fortification with first some limeade and then a small sample of his rosemary mint ice cream. It was creamy, yet light and refreshing. I asked for Jack’s recipe and he happily obliged with that one and a few others he’d told me about.
I didn’t actually end up using Jack’s recipe (because his method included dairy, eggs, and required heating. I’m trying to stay dairy free and I’m lazy—ha!
However, the recipe that I came up with–the Tomato Rosemary Mint Ice Cream—is definitely Jack inspired. I had certainly never considered using rosemary in ice cream before. And, even if I had, I doubt I would have added both rosemary and mint.
I would have thought that those two members of the herb family would be in opposition in a recipe particularly in one such as ice cream where they’d both be “front and center.” However, the rosemary and mint do work together in this wonderfully creamy ice cream, without either being overly strong at all.
Curious on what made me do a crazy thing like adding tomatoes? Well, after I mixed up the herb-infused coconut milk and honey, the mixture didn’t look or taste like much of anything. The herbal flavors were there, but they were very mild.
Jack had used crème de menthe in his version and that probably would have worked a small miracle in my basic recipe. However, I wanted to use ingredients that most everyone has on hand and I actually wanted to skip the alcohol this time.
Although I certainly do add alcohol to ice cream (it actually helps minimize crystallization), including it seems almost like cheating to me. All ice cream flavors taste good with a little Grand Marnier or Crème de Menthe added!
So I needed something else to add some oomph and to complement the rosemary and basil.
On my kitchen counter were two peaches and two tomatoes. The typical person, having already used the unusual rosemary-mint combo, might have opted to add the two peaches—which I think you’d agree are pretty traditional ice cream ingredients.
While I do think the peaches would have been lovely in this recipe, the “ingredients renegade” in me went with the tomatoes. They were very ripe and wouldn’t you think that tomatoes, rosemary, and mint just naturally go together? Well, they do—even in ice cream!
Tomatoes are, of course, a fruit and folks often eat them whole just that way. I halved and seeded the tomatoes, pulled off the skins, and chopped them fairly fine. The chopped super ripened bits looked much like watermelon.
Admittedly, looking at the ingredients and the mixture of them, I was still doubtful I had made the right ingredient choice. However, the resulting ice cream is a surprise. A very pleasant surprise.
The ice cream is somewhat savory but still adequately sweet. And it seems “light” overall with the subdued rosemary and mint flavors.
However, it’s the tomato bits that are the biggest surprise. They stay super frozen and provided a satisfying, but “giving” crunch and are as sweet as many fruits.
I asked Mr. GFE to take a bite and guess what was in the ice cream. His first response was, “Wow, this ice cream is cold, very cold.” Then he responded, “Peaches?”
Was it the power of suggestion since the passed over peaches remained on the counter? Or was it just that the tomato bits taste so nicely fruity? They really do and I love that.
I also love that the tomato bits themselves stay very frozen. They make the ice cream seem very cold as Mr. GFE said, even after the rest of the ice cream starts melting.
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, and refined sugar free. Well, excluding the molasses on the latter.
Molasses is considered refined it seems, but there’s such a tiny amount in this recipe. I used it in this ice cream for just a touch of more complex sweetness and for its coloring.
Before adding molasses, the basic ice cream—excluding the peppermint-look from the bits of tomatoes–was super white. That white of coconut milk that looks much like the white of brand new white sneakers. A girl almost needs her shades to work with such a bright white, but a touch of molasses made this ice cream a much more appealing hue.
Beige … ecru … ivory … whatever your label, it’s lovely as a backdrop for the tomato bits. Incidentally, either regular or unsulphured blackstrap molasses can be used. Blackstrap molasses actually has more nutritional value, but for such a small amount, that would be negligible.
Tomato Rosemary Mint Ice Cream
This ice cream flavor combination is a surprise. A very pleasant surprise! The bits of tomatoes are fruity and stay super frozen and they're complemented well by the coconut milk-based ice cream and the rosemary and mint.
- 3 ½ cups, full-fat coconut milk, chilled (total amount; part “infused,” see instructions)
- 2 small very ripe tomatoes, seeded, peeled, and chopped—about ½ cup
- 2/3 cup honey
- ¾ tsp molasses
- one 8-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
- Several pieces of fresh mint, chopped if you wish for stronger flavor (maybe the equivalent of a "loose" cup)
- Pour about 2 ½ cups of coconut milk into a large jar or bowl that you can cover. Add rosemary and mint; stir.
- Refrigerate overnight (or longer if you want a stronger flavor). Remove rosemary and mint with tongs, shaking excess coconut milk off into jar or bowl as you do so; discard herbs.
- Pour coconut milk through a fine mesh strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup.
- Add additional chilled coconut milk until you reach 3-½ cup level.
- Transfer coconut milk mixture into a large clean bowl (to ensure there are no herbal bits). Stir in tomatoes, honey, and molasses. Mix well. (I used a mixer.)
- Pour into already frozen ice cream tub/bowl of ice cream maker and churn about 25 to 30 minutes. Freeze additional time if needed. Enjoy alone or as a topping to an overly sweet dessert!
Did you know that you can buy an extra tub/bowl for your ice cream maker? This is especially handy if you have a large family (or entertain often) and need double batches or are in an ice cream making mood and just don’t want to wait another 24 hours for your tub to refreeze. My support group member, gfe reader, and friend, Jennifer R., shared that very helpful tip. For her family of five, 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream is just not enough!
I wonder if any of you, my dear gfe readers, will be adventurous enough to make this recipe. Or perhaps you’ll just adopt my ingredient recklessness and make an equally wonderful, but unusual concoction of your own!
Originally published September 24, 2010; updated August 29, 2018.
I think I’ll have to pack the ice cream maker last, Shirley! I’m definitely trying this one! *adding rosemary and mint to the shopping list*
Hi Debi–Sounds like a good plan! 🙂 I thought you might be the first one to comment, dear. 😉 I had some of this ice cream for breakfast. I’m surprised each and every time I bite into one of the frozen tomato bits!
One of the first things I did when I turned on the laptop this morning was check your blog! lol I wrote down what I needed and picked it all up from the grocery store this afternoon. The tub is already in the freezer getting ready for some churning tomorrow and I’ll be infusing the coconut milk when I prep dinner tonight. 😀 I can’t wait!
Hey Debi–Gosh, you have SUCH faith in me! 🙂 I hope the recipe works beautifully for you and you like it! I’ll be holding my breath here. You did get ripe tomatoes, right? And, as I was telling Kim, be sure to chop tomatoes finely and stir well before adding to the ice cream maker. Little clusters of tomato bits will taste more like tomatoes that mostly sweet frozen delights, and obviously you want the latter.
Okay, dear … let me know! 😉
I’ve been feeling extremely adventuresome lately. So I figured, why not? I’m about to pull everything out and mix it all together. 😀
Hi Debi–Okay, I’m waiting … if you hated it, it’s okay, you can tell us. I will feel guilty that you’ve wasted ingredients, but one must try different things in life, right? 😉
Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free says
Ah, you sneaky sneaky chef! The little red bits were tomatoes!!! What a wonderfully interesting combination of flavors! I actually find this so intriguing! I am just going to have to make it! 😉
I will let you know how it turns out. Kurt gets home tonight, and with him is a nice supply of my rosemary! Yippee! I am already thawing a pork loin to make for tomorrow night to use some of the herbs up! Ice Cream with rosemary and tomatoes just may have to be our dessert! 😉
Ha ha, Kim! The sneaky, sneaky gfe chef! That can be one of my alter egos. 😉 Be sure to use ripe tomatoes, cut fine, and stir well. (I’m going to add those reminders to my notes.) I did end up with a little cluster of the tomato bits at the very end of my ice cream in the freezer and they tasted pretty, well, “tomatoey.” Not unpleasant at all, but not nearly as tasty as the rest of the batch.
I’ll be worried now about what you’ll think of this recipe (the angst of being a food blogger, especially when using renegade ingredients)! The herbed pork loin with this ice cream as dessert sounds perfect to me. Love both! 🙂
I would have never guesses the red bits were tomatoes. I was leaning towards beans, I had it once in a Filipino ice cream. It was alright but I don’t think the texture fit
in with ice cream. You are sneaky indeed, tomato Rosemary ice cream.
Hi Chelsey–Hmmm on the beans. I think I would have disliked them for the same reason that you did … texture. (Although I just saw a great mashed potato recipe that used beans over at spabettie’s site here. It looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try it!)
Hope you like this “surprise” recipe if you give it a try!
Hugs from the new and improved, that is, sneaky, gfe 😉
This sounds absolutely wonderful! I would love to try it one day :). What a creative idea!
Hi Lauren–It’s so nice to see you here at gfe! 🙂 Thanks so much for the enthusiasm, dear. This ice cream is a delightful surprise!
Love it! You’d think I would have guessed–I’ve put tomato in cakes–but it didn’t even cross my mind! I bet the herbs and tomato work beautifully together, and this would be a terrific palate cleanser between courses!
Hi Ricki– 🙂 Yes, tomato cakes, or at least tomato soup cakes, are classics, but still surprises. I do believe this ice cream would work nicely as a palate cleanser. It also works just by itself as dessert, surprisingly. An added bennie is that this ice cream is satisfying, but one doesn’t want to eat a ton of it (well, that’s always a bennie in my book anyway!). 😉
Jennifer R. says
sounds yummy — and tomatoes in ice cream, sounds odd but I’m sure it’s great. I’ll add this to my list to make. My mom and I ate at Pure Food & Wine in NYC and they paired tomatoes with watermelon for a first course salad.
Oh, and last I checked — we only have 5 in our family (not 6 as you stated). LOL!! No, not planning on adding either 🙂
Hi Jennifer–Thank goodness I have you checking on me this evening! LOL All my errors are fixed now. Still can’t understand how I got the number of your family members incorrect; how hard is that?? We’ve even had the pleasure of having you all here together for a support group meeting. 😉
Thanks for the input on this combination! Sometimes odd does work. 🙂 I bet that salad was delicious!
Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com says
Okay Shirley, this is just oddly brilliant, fun and intriguing to me! I LOVE that you just go for it; tomatoes, rosemary…alcohol in ice cream. Wait, can you really do that? The alcohol part? Where the HELL have I been all my life??? 😀 (Girl, I know what I am making for myself at my next kiddie party, LOL!).
You inspire and encourage my “glutadoodle-ness” every single day, thank you my sweet friend!
Hi Heidi–I love how folks are reacting to this recipe! 😉 One of the joys of going gluten free has been getting creative in the kitchen. I was always known as a good cook/baker, but I relied heavily on recipes and cookbooks. It’s more fun to come up with recipes these days. Making ice cream is an easy way to get creative. Yes, a little bit of alcohol (a tbsp or two usually) can go a long way in a recipe! 😉 Just FYI though, most of the time, if alcohol is called for in one of my ice cream recipes, it can be omitted or replaced with vanilla extract.
Telling me that I help inspire your “glutadoodleness” is quite a compliment—thank you, my dear! 🙂 And, back at you, too. Still marveling at some of your recent accompishments in the kitchen!
Celiacs in the House says
There was a tomato ice cream recipe for the Vitamix that I kept threatening to try all summer, but we kept eating all the tomatoes. That recipe had the tomatoes blasted to bits, no chunks and maybe a lot of tomato flavor. Your recipe looks like it might be a nicer way to use the tomato with other flavors. You are a brave one with that ice cream making.
Hi Wendy–I’m intrigued by the tomato ice cream recipe you mention. Just having a few of the bits cluster together at the bottom of the tub was more tomato flavor than I care for. But spread out and small, they are really quite a delight. Hey, it’s fun being brave with ice cream making! It doesn’t seem like courage though … just fun and adventure! If it goes badly, all that’s really lost is about two cans of coconut milk. So far though, all experiments have been successful. The fact that you can taste the mix before you churn it into ice cream pretty much guarantees that it won’t be a total failure. 😉
What an interesting combination of flavors!
Hi Alea–Now you know that when folks say the word “interesting,” it can often be a polite way of saying, “you’re a big weirdo!” LOL Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, dear. I’d like to make a batch and give everyone a sample with those tiny spoons that the ice cream shops and such have for just that purpose. I’d be sure to offer one of those little frozen tomato bits in each bite. 😉
Shirley – this sounds so cool! I would definitely try it before I made it. Can I have a spoonful of yours please? I love the idea of having reckless abandon! All of us should live that way, especially in the kitchen!
Hey Maggie–I can understand why you’d want to taste teste this ice cream first. LOL When my friend offered me the rosemary mint ice cream, I almost didn’t say yes. 😉 But, I was glad I did! You’re a brave cook … just go for it. 🙂 Incidentally, I always think … what’s the absolute worst that could happen?
I love love love this idea – great way to take some very unconventional ice cream ingredients and turn it into an awesome looking dessert! I bet it was absolutely delicious!! Now I want an ice cream maker….
Hi Jenn–Thanks so much! It is a great dessert … not at all what one would expect with those ingredients. My friend makes even more unconventional flavors. One of his favorites is a flavor they call Taj Mahal with coconut and curry. 😉
BTW, on another gf blog, I just saw a cobalt blue version of the Cuisinart ice cream maker I have. Now my white one looks so darned boring and I’m so envious! If you’ve ever made ice cream without an ice cream maker, I’m sure this one could be made the same way. I’m just not familiar with that process. I know Ricki (Diet, Dessert, and Dogs) makes quite a few ice cream recipes without the benefit of an ice cream maker. She says she prefers the non-maker method in some recipes.
Very interesting. And I thought I was the queen of weird ice cream. =) I never would have thought tomatoes and rosemary. Mint, yes, but not the others. It looks wonderful. I loved the video and “tempering the egg yolks” was a great feature. I love learning new cooking tricks. Great post, Shirley!
Hi Melissa–LOL … another use of the word “interesting” in regard to this recipe, and you’ve added a “very”! Re: queen of weird ice cream, move over sister, you’re got someone else vying for the title. 😉 Seriously, we have often come to expect strong, bold flavors in ice cream, but sometimes subtle works well. The tomato bits though are not subtle, but not the exected flavor either. I’ll make this for you one day!
I don’t know that I’ll ever temper egg yolks, but it’s “old hat” to Jack and a good thing to know. 🙂
Sharon M. says
You are so creative, Shirley! I actually bought several cans of coconut milk today and thought of you! I just put my ice cream tub in the freezer and plan to make some version of chocolate peanut butter ice cream tomorrow. Your ice cream posts are always so inspiring.
Hi Sharon M.–Oooh, chocolate peanut butter … now that sounds divine! I’ll look forward to hearing more. So glad you always enjoy my ice cream posts even when I am exhibiting a quirkiness in ice cream flavor choices! 😉
Great to hear from you, dear! 🙂
carrie @ gingerlemongirl.com says
It’s definitely an interesting combination! I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it! You’re so creative Shirley!
Hi Carrie–Ah, another use of the word “interesting”! LOL 🙂 See Debi’s comment … she actually made it! 😉
Thanks for the sweet words, awesome gluten-free, vegan crusty bread baker that you are! (And, that would be the bread that’s crusty, not the baker.)
Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free says
I love this flavor profile, Shirley. Tomatoes and rosemary are a favorite of mine and, honestly, when you cook a tomato sauce they get really sweet. I love your free spirit and creativity.
Hi Amy–Thank you, Amy! It’s fun to think outside the box sometimes. Nobody would be surprised if these ingredients were in a savory coconut milk soup; it’s just the addition of sweetener and turning it into ice cream that surprises folks. But, it truly is good. 🙂
Like I mentioned in Facebook, Shirley, it was AWESOME! I may have put more mint in there than you did…I tend to eyeball fresh herbs…so I have a really minty ice cream. I also tore them off the stems, so some of the leaves were able to infuse more than others. That’s okay though, because a favorite ice cream of mine is mint chocolate chip. My ice cream maker decided to freeze it a little funny, so it’s more like Tomato Rosemary Mint Ice, rather than cream. So the whole texture is ice and I wasn’t getting those little frozen bits surprises you kept mentioning. Then again, I was looking for it, too. I actually did get one bite yesterday that hit that sweet frozen bit. Heaven! My friends all think I’m nuts for making it, but I’m enjoying every spoonful of it!
Hi Debi–You did it! And, you liked it … a LOT! Oh, that’s so wonderful—thank you for taking the time to share how it turned out. 🙂 I love minty ice cream. Mint chocolate chip IS my favorite flavor. (I have a recipe for that here at gfe, too. It doesn’t use real mint though.) I actually thought that this recipe could take a bit more of the mint flavoring, so you are a smart girl. 😉 Odd that your ice cream mixture didn’t freeze it like ice cream, and I’m sorry you didn’t get all those frozen bits. Glad you got that one though! LOL on being the crazy one in your peer group, AND getting to eat all that ice cream by yourself.
Now this sounds inventive and different… I’ll give it a go since I have become the proud new owner of an ice bowl for my mixer! It’s not out of the box yet so maybe yours will be the first recipe I try?
Hi there, Cid–What a treat to have you stop by gfe again! 🙂 Congrats on your new ice bowl! I’ve never heard that expression, but I like it–it’s so accurate. This is quite the surprising recipe, but whichever recipe you make first, I know you’ll love making your own ice cream! Once you figure out how much total liquid, sweetener, etc. works, you can create one successful recipe after another. I can’t wait to hear about what you make … a chai or chamomile tea-based ice cream, perhaps? 😉
Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea says
Shirley! What a wonderful idea – I’d never thought of putting tomatoes in ice cream, but now that I’ve seen yours…might have to give it a go one day…hopefully it won’t be too unusual for the rest of my family, haha, especially my brother who is pretty specific about his food and what he will eat. I’ve been meaning to comment here for a while now, I’m still catching up on my blog reading. 🙂 (My catching up has nothing to do with your RSS feed, by the way.)
Hey Zoe–You might try making it and NOT telling them what’s in it initially, just until they get past the first bite and decide if they like it based on its own merits vs preconceived notions against tomatoes in ice cream. LOL Of course, if that would not be a good thing for your brother, then do tell him in advance. I’d say it’s an unusual recipe for everyone, but pleasantly surprising. And, if they do like mint in ice cream, you can go overboard on that a bit like Debi did (see her comments), which might compensate for the weirdness of tomatoes. 😉
We all get busy, but I appreciate you stopping by and also telling me that my feed issue didn’t keep you away. 🙂 Hugs,
I love it Shirley! I can really imagine that tasting good, and I’m not sure I would like peaches and rosemary together. I have a niece who likes to make ice cream for her friends. I might look into the personalized cartons
Hi Linda–I was so tickled to see your comment because most folks have said things like, “uh, interesting”; “odd”; “strange”; etc. At least reader/blogger Debi made this ice cream and rated it as awesome in her comment. 🙂 Maybe you’ll get to make this eventually and try it first hand. 😉 I just like playing around with the ice cream maker. Because you can taste beforehand, you can adjust ingredients so there truly are no bad ice cream flavors.
The ice cream containers are so cute and handy, too.
Shirley, I love your innovation! This sounds great.
Hi Alta–Thanks! Well, two testimonials in comments so far … that makes me feel good! 😉
Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free says
Okay, my amazing crazy creative friend! I made this and I cannot believe that it was really good! I added a lot of mint (since my mint plant is doing really good right now and I LOVE mint ice cream), and I chopped the tomatoes really small. And I only used 6 sprigs of rosemary (because I really wanted to the kids to eat it and like it). Guess what!! It was really good! It would be a totally good palate cleanser in between courses too! My in-laws really did like it too! My father-in-law had 2 bowls and my mother-in-law asked me for the recipe (she is the queen of unique dishes as well).
Well done! We are testament here that this is a good recipe! I never told my kids what was in it and they both said they liked it.
Hey Kim–I’m thrilled you made it and everyone enjoyed it so! 🙂 I would have used more mint if I’d had some. I love mint in ice cream. I also chopped the tomatoes really small. Did your tomato bits get super frozen? You might want to reread the recipe on the rosemary though. It only calls for a single 8-inch spring of rosemary. Did you truly use 6 large sprigs? That is a lot of rosemary! Anyway, I’m so tickled pink that everyone loved it so. I told everyone it was good! Trust me. LOL But, I know … taste can be subjective. And, smart idea on not telling the kiddoes … we all have preconceived notions on foods. 😉
Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free says
LOL! I have so much rosemary that when I saw the “8” I did not think much of it, except that 6 sounded better! That would explain the very “Rosemaryish” flavor!! I actually told my MIL that she should probably use even less if she makes it. That is hysterical!
I think I need to touch up on my speed-reading techniques. Oye! Well now you know that it is still good with MUCH more rosemary than called for. I think what helped is that I only refrigerated it for about 6 hours because I started it in the morning.
Oh, and some of the tomatoes were really frozen, but not all of the pieces. Not sure why they did not all get frozen. But they were still good. They got nice and sweet.
Kim–LOL I think most of us do that skimming thing! Glad it wasn’t so rosemaryish that it was unpalatable. 😉 It’s funny that nobody else experienced all the frozen bits like I did. I wonder if it was because my tomato was super ripe and the “sugar” in it crystallized/froze better. Even if not super frozen, nice and sweet is good! 🙂
Heather @Gluten-Free Cat says
You seriously never cease to amaze me! I never would have imagined tomato OR rosemary in an ice cream. I’m so thankful to have creative people like you to enrich my life!!
Hey Heather–Awww, thanks! I really, really hope you will try this recipe. Just thinking about it makes me want some. It’s such a surprise. The frozen bits of tomato in it are divine. 🙂 Btw, I think we’re all doing our bits on creativity with food … it takes a village … of foodies. 😉
April J Harris says
What a wonderfully unique ice cream, Shirley! I can see how all these flavours really would compliment one another. Thank you for sharing this delicious and innovative recipe with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.
Shirley Braden says
Every now and then I have a really wacky idea, April. 😉 Sometimes they actually work! 🙂