Mastic Gum Ice cream

September 4th, 2007


Have you ever had Turkish ice cream, dondurma? If you have ever visited my country I bet you have run into an ice cream vendor in a coastal town, especially if you have visited in hot, summer days. Those guys, the vendors I mean, do not give out their ice cream easily. Paying is not enough, you need to work for them. Recently I was talking to a Taiwanese friend of mine and she said the Turkish ice cream seller in Taiwan’s night market uses the same tricks. Ok, if I have lost you already, if you are curious about what those tricks are, what it means to work for your ice cream, I suggest you take a look at these videos.

It is elastic, chewy, yet very hard to melt. Sometimes they demonstrate the hardness by cutting it with ax! And if you ask me, it is the best type of ice cream ever.

The above pic does not really explain this well, I realize but you have to trust me on this!
One of the secret ingredient to Turkish ice cream is sahlep (or sahlab) that is a dried root of some special orchid natively growing in Turkey. It is not a very easy ingredient to come by if you are looking for the pure dried root. But it is very easy to get the sahlep powder, already mixed with starch and possibly sugar in Middle Eastern stores in the States. Following the recipe on the box will get you one of the favorite drinks of winter days.

Another ingredient I really love in ice cream is the mastic gum. If you ask me, masic gum has an amazingly distinguishable and irreplaceable taste. The gum is a resin from a tree that grows in Greek Chios island and the neighboring town of Çeşme in Turkey.

I put together this recipe to replicate the dondurma we tasted in our visit to Turkey last summer, in the city of Ayvalık. I hope you will be able to find some sahlep & mastic gum in your local Middle Eastern store or online stores to try out. Might fall in love with ice cream all over again, be careful ;)
Mastic Dondurma

  • 1 cup 2% milk

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 30 gr sahlep drink mix (here, it is not the pure sahlep I am talking about, the drink mix)

  • 1 gr mastic gum

  • 1/2 cup sugar

First put the mastic gum with a tablespoon of sugar in spice grinder or mortar/pestle to grind well. Mix the sahlep mix and milk, stir well while heating. Add the cream, sugar and gum. Stir constantly until bubbly. Transfer into a bowl, let it cool and retire to the fridge until you are ready to freeze it using ice cream machine. You will realize that it is kind of stringy, elastic. This is how it should be. Freeze until desired consistency is achieved and transfer into already cooled freezer safe container.


17 Responses to “Mastic Gum Ice cream”

  1. meeso Says:

    This was a really fun post…great videos…I wish I could try some, you made it sound so appetizing!

  2. Garrett Says:

    i so want to try this stuff and the gums!

  3. Mercedes Says:

    I love, love, love dondurma (or bouza bi haleeb), and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it in the U.S. I wasn’t sure if the sahlep mixes would work. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  4. Carol Says:

    Hello . I dont know how I came to your blog , and im so happy to find you.
    I dont have a blog like you , but definetly I ll come to visit offen .
    Im from Guatemala , and I love mediterranean food . some years ago I went to Cyprus , and I ate a dessert , was delitious , may be you know how to make it . I m not sure how to write its name , but sounds like “lokoumades” , I would like to know is you can cook this dessert , you would make me happy !! :) Greetings for you

  5. Shooky Says:

    Thanks for that one. Never been to Turkey but in the past there used to be places in Israel (were I live) where you could buy such ice-cream (probably owned by people who came here from Turkey). I think there are still some places that make it, but not in Tel-Aviv where I live. Anyhow, thanks for the recipe!

  6. almost vegetarian Says:

    Interesting. Very interesting. I always find it fascinating to see how similar recipes are translated into regional cuisines. I bet it would be great fun to line all the versions of ice cream (American frozen yogurt, French sorbet, Italian gelato, Turkish ice cream, and so on) along a table and try a spoonful of each. Of course, it would be difficult to pick your favorite.


  7. Jenny Says:

    Nice recipe! I would just like to add an information on mastic :
    The mastic tree grows all over the Mediterranean from west to east, but gives its resin (the mastic gum) only in Chios,Greece.That is why it is also called “Chios Gum” or “mastiha”. So, in Turkey or other mediterranean countries, we can meet only the tree but not the gum.Mastic gum that is used there, it is imported from Greece.


  8. Kenny Says:

    Hi, i just bought some sahlab powder and mastic gum today to try out your recipe, one question, how is the heavy cream made? is it made with egg? thanks for the post

  9. fethiye Says:

    Kenny, heavy cream is sold in cartons in the refrigerated section (close to milk, yogurt) in supermarkets. You might be able to find it under the name “whipping cream”, as well. It is liquid.

  10. Kenny Says:

    thanks fethiye
    i tried making it today without a ice cream machine, instead i freeze the mixture in the freezer and take it out for stirring every 30mins and repeated about 5 times, the result is that the ice cream got really hard and not very stringy or chewy. I’m about to give it another try. is there a better way to make ice cream without a ice cream machine? any help is appreciated

  11. Angela Says:

    Hy Fethiye,

    Do you can teach me how to make toasts GARBANZO BEANS? I really love it and here in Brasil I don’t find anyone to teach me.



  12. Kathleen Says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I really like this type of ice cream and would love to make it at home. I have mastic and salep, but I don’t have salep drink mix, only the pure orchid powder. Do you have any idea how much pure salep I’d use in place of the mix? Thanks!

    Kenny: you might try the ice cream making method suggested at the following site:

  13. fethiye Says:

    Kathleen, you are lucky to have the pure powder! I would think a teaspoon would be enough. But maybe you should add equal amount of starch (any would do) to help thickening – salep mix has that, too.

  14. fethiye Says:

    Angela, i have not done that before (but in my mind recently, too) will post if I get successful results.

  15. Ken Says:

    I read an article saying that the orchid flowers which use to make sahleb powers are getting extinct in turkey due to massive usage of sahleb in making ice cream & they’ve stopped exporting out of the country. I can’t find sahleb powder & mastic gum in Malaysia, anyway else that I can buy these 2 ingredients?

  16. peach Says:

    hi, i’m from indonesia, i want to try make this ice cream, but i don’t know where to get the sahlep drink mix and mastic gum. have u know where to get sahlep and mastic gum in my country indonesia?

  17. Ruth Anderson Says:

    Neither Sahlep drink mix nor mastic gum are available in the southern NM town where I live and I cannot seem to find them on line. Please advise. Ruth Anderson

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