Pickl-It Pickled-Garlic Bacon Ice Cream

Image Pickled Garlic

“My final, considered judgment is that the hardy bulb [garlic] blesses and ennobles everything it touches – with the possible exception of ice cream and pie.” – Angelo Pellegrini, ‘The Unprejudiced Palate’ (1948)

One of our favorite offerings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, is their world-renowned garlic ice cream. Depending on how much you love its raw burn and “Stinking Rose” factor, it can either be a tasty-treat or a scary-dare.

For my mother-in-law, the entire festival was a scary-dare, while my husband and I viewed it as an exciting culinary adventure – 100% Garlic! What was not to like! We excitedly rushed through the entrance, while my mother-in-law balked, repulsed by the garlic’s aromatic essence (“strong stench” is what she called it) permeating the early-morning air.

We convinced her she’d get used to the “aroma”, but her nose remained in the “if-you-keep-doing-that-it-will-remain-stuck” position – wrinkled-up and held high – for most of the day. Towards the end of the day, she perked up when we mentioned stopping by the ice cream booth for “dessert”.

“Oh, look, there’s a sugar cone,” she rejoiced, unfurling her nose, happy that she’d found a familiar “food”. It only took one lick of the garlic ice cream for her nose to resume its wrinkled-position, as she struggled for words. “Hmmmm. That’s…interesting.”

“Offered free each year, the popular vanilla ice cream is made with bits of raw garlic. Although lines for the mutant treat are consistently the longest at the festival, the overall consensus among curious garlic daredevils is that it’s merely ‘interesting.’ Mercury News

Interesting? Garlic and vanilla bean are naturally-compatible spices, a classic pairing of flavors used in a variety of lovely sauces and vinaigrettes. But – and this is the important part – the secret to pairing garlic with vanilla is that garlic must be tamed, either by roasting, sauteeing, baking or pickling.

When garlic is naturally-pickled (fermented) its flavor becomes nutty, mild, and slightly sweet – very similar to gently-baked garlic heads – with the addition of a nice “tang” from the pickling brine. Doesn’t that sound like a good way to turn “interesting” garlic ice cream into “Amazing!” garlic ice cream?

So Many Recipes. So Few That Will Work! I could have simply used a favorite Gail Gand vanilla ice cream recipe as the base, but I was curious if anyone else was experimenting with garlic ice cream, so I took a look around the internet.

Image Gilroy Garlic Ice Cream

Recipe #1

Supposedly, this is the real recipe for the festival’s garlic ice cream.

Hmmmm…..I don’t think so.

They’re only using one raw clove. Several years of tasting-experience tells me that’s insufficient. There’s no sense in wasting precious grass-fed (real) cream and milk…

Image 5 Garlic Cloves

Recipe #2

This recipe contains honey and 5 whole, raw garlic cloves. That’s an improvement, but it still won’t pass the “Garlicked-Up” test:

When greeting a gorgeous police-mounted horse patrolling the Gilroy Garlic Festival, if the horse backs away, snorting and pawing the ground, you are sufficiently Garlicked-Up. “He really hates garlic and this assignment”, sighed the officer.

Image Garlic Recipe #3

Be still my heart. This recipe looks horse-snorting good AND adds bacon. I love bacon. It’s smoky-element would be brilliant with the pickled garlic!

Ironically, this recipe was created at the Four Seas, the third-oldest ice cream shack in New England, a region known for its lobsters, clam chowder, maple syrup and blueberries, and not exactly for its spicy cuisine. Maybe the owner of the Four Seas was influenced by another New Englander, Professor Wilbur Scoville, – of the Scoville Chili Heat Scale. because it calls for 1/4-cup of pureed garlic! Garlicked-up!

I made a few changes, first, changing this from a savory to a sweet ice cream. A scoop of this on a chocolate waffle? Heaven!

Increasing the honey, I also added a vanilla bean and skipped the lemon juice, an acid that could too easily out-shout the Pickl-It garlic cloves natural lactic-acid, created during the fermenting process. Acid is important in cutting the fat, so that the ice creams flavor will taste as good from the first to the very last bite.

Sweet, smoky, salty, nutty, vanilla, mellow garlic – it’s all in here – wrapped in layers of thick and creamy egg-custard ice cream.

Red Dot Divider

Image Ice Cream

Pickl-It Pickled-Garlic Bacon Vanilla Honey Ice Cream
(with modifications to the original)

  • 4 cups whole raw, real, grass-fed, sun-filled pasture milk
  • 3 cups raw, real, grass-fed, sun-filled pasture heavy cream
  • 2 vanilla-beans, split
  • 8 egg pastured (grass & bug-fed) egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoon raw (not pasteurized!) honey
  • 1/2 cup (1/2-lb) healthy pastured-bacon, rendered/cooked and very finely minced
  • 1/4 cup pureed Pickl-It pickled garlic cloves

The following instructions are from one of my favorite pastry chef’s, Gale Gand. Learning to watch for the “puff of steam” at 160F was one of the best tips I’ve ever learned from any chef. If you follow her directions, you’ll end up with an incredibly creamy (not icy) custard ice cream.

  1. Put a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
  2. Pour milk and cream into a saucepan.
  3. Split vanilla beans, scraping seeds with sharp knife, adding, along with scraped pods, to the milk/cream.
  4. Bring whole milk, cream and vanilla to a simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. While milk/cream are heating, in a bowl, whisk egg yolks and honey together until thick and lemon-yellow; set aside.
  6. When the cream mixture reaches a fast simmer, turn it off. Do NOT LET IT BOIL.
  7. In a thin stream (an emulsion process, just like making mayo) whisk half of heated milk into the egg yolk & honey mixture.
  8. Pour the egg-cream mixture into the saucepan containing the remaining cream mixture.
  9. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  10. At 160°F degrees, the mixture will give off a puff of steam.
  11. When the mixture reaches 180°F, it will be thickened and creamy, like eggnog. If you don’t have a thermometer, test it by dipping a CLEAN wooden spoon into the mixture. Run your finger down the back of the spoon. If the stripe remains clear, the mixture is ready, if the edges blur, it is not quite thick enough yet. When it is ready, quickly remove from the heat.
  12. Meanwhile, remove the bowl from the freezer, put 4 handfuls of ice cubes in the bottom, and add cold water to cover. Rest a smaller bowl in the ice water.
  13. Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla bean pieces, into a smaller bowl.
  14. Chill 3-hours, then freeze according to the directions for your ice cream maker.