This is my first blog post in a while. We have been very busy trying to get our forthcoming book Edible Plants ready for publication, which has included testing and honing the recipes, and I felt this one was worth sharing, partly because now is the time to do it. You will not be disappointed with the results, though it is not for people on diets…
This is ice-cream how it used to be made — all you need is a freezer, though it dates from a time when the only way to freeze things in the summer was to have an underground ice room.
You could probably use any sort of mint, but the one that works best is Watermint (Mentha aquatica), and it is in perfect condition right now, just as it starts to flower (that’s its current state in Sussex, anyway). Watermint is distinguishable from other mints partly by its liking for aquatic habitats (here it is shown growing next to a lake, but you will find it in ponds, ditches, small streams). The arrangement of its flowers are also distinctive, with a large terminal clump at the top. Once familiar with it, you will also be able to recognise it by smell.
Ingredients: 200g caster sugar, 180ml water, 8 tbsp watermint chopped leaves (these are too light to specify by weight), 1 tbsp broken-up watermint flowers and whole flowers for decorative purposes, juice of ½ lemon, 600ml double cream, small bar of very dark chocolate.
Method: Heat the water in a saucepan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon juice, mint leaves and the broken flowers, blitz for 30 seconds, then allow to cool. Then roughly chop the chocolate, passing it through a colander to make sure no large bits get through. Stir the mix thoroughly with a whisk when cold, then add the cream and chocolate, stir again then put in a freezer until it has the consistency of slush. Stir thoroughly again, then return to the freezer. You can repeat this process 2 or 3 times, the goal being to introduce air bubbles to lighten the final product. When frozen hard, serve with whole flower heads as a garnish.