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Making Pistachio Ice Cream and Gelato

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I'd like help from anyone on making the best Pistachio Ice cream.  This forum is a continuation of a conversation I started in my "introduction" post, which you can see at 

I recently made Pistachio ice cream using the Jeni's Ice Cream Cookbook.  I love Pistachio ice cream, so I've launched an experiment to find the best recipe.  I am going to try two basic approaches:  The Modernist Cookbook gelato, which uses no cream at all, and ice cream; I'm also experimenting with two brands of pistachio paste and starting with pistachios and no paste.  Lisa Shock and other People who commented on the earlier thread said that the key is to start with the best Pistachio Paste.    

Any advice is appreciated.  Here is where I am now:  I purchased a brand of pistachio paste through nuts.com named "Love 'n Bake."  When it arrived, it was 1/2 pistachios and 1/2 sugar and olive oil.   I purchased a second batch through Amazon from FiddleyFarms; it is 100% pistachios.  I bought raw pistachios through nuts.com.  The only raw ones were from California.  If anyone has advice on using the MC recipe or on best approaches to ice cream with this ingredient I'd appreciate them.  I will report progress on my experiment in this forum.

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I’ve only experimented a bit with nut ice creams. My first attempt used nut butters (100% nuts, pureed in a high-powered blender—basically, nut paste without the added sugar). The trouble with this is that in order to get a vibrant nut flavor, you have to add so much nut oil and solids that the texture suffers. My ice cream was almost peanut-buttery.


In the future I plan to use much less nut butter, and to make up the rest by infusing nuts into the milk (steeping crushed nuts for 30 minutes or so at around 85°C).


Pistachio paste is the traditional method for gelato, but I question if it’s still the best. The old reason for using it is that it was once the only way to get the best pistachios, at least outside the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There were one or two brands coveted by every pastry chef. But I’ve read that these brands have gone downhill. Meanwhile, you can get better raw ingredients almost everywhere now. I’d explore getting your hands on the best possible nuts first, and then work on getting the best flavor extraction.

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Notes from the underbelly

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I ordered a Sicilian product, Villa Reale Pistachio spread, from Amazon. It comes in a trendy thick glass square jar. For approx $15 you get 7.5 oz. I did not make ice cream with it, although I had every intention of baking with it.  In fact, I didn't make anything at all, because by the time I was ready to make something I had eaten up most of it by the spoonful. It was delicious. If anyone has a good recipe for cookies or shortbread or cake I would be into that, but until I have a recommended recipe I think it unwise to order more and see it disappear the same way. I'm tempted, though.

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I thought you didn't like their shipping rates.   As I said in the other thread, I found the pistachio (and hazelnut) pastes L'Epicerie has imported from Italy to be overly roasted, but the texture is very good.  I thought the domestic product from fiddyment farms had a better flavor. 

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Yes, when I looked the first time and tried to do a simulated order I got the inflated shipping costs.  When I lookedt this second time it was different.  Dont know what I did wrong.  Also, my daughter lives in NY, so that's another option.  I go visit her from time to time!.  The fiddleyfarms product looks very good from the outside.  do you refrigerate it after opening?

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I refrigerate or freeze all nuts and nut products.  Nuts go rancid.  In fact, this is such a problem that I gave up on walnuts entirely because they always seem to be already rancid when I buy them.  It seems like a lot of people can't identify rancid foods and think walnuts are just supposed to be like that.  Walnuts in the shell were a revelation...but too much work.  Pistachios aren't as unsaturated as walnuts, so they should be somewhat more stable.  I don't think any of these things are going to go bad in a couple days, so if you're going to use it quickly it doesn't matter.  But I'd keep in in the fridge. 


Katie, the Villa Reale product is only 20% pistachios---only 1.56 oz of pistachios in that jar---so it's probably not the best option for baking or cooking.   It's also pretty expensive per pound of nuts, about $155 / lb of actual pistachio content at the current amazon price.  The fiddyment farms paste and butter, and several of the pastes from L'Epicerie are 100% pistachio---always check so you know what you're getting.  There's also a Pistachio Factory "butter" product that is 100% pistachio.  I tried this last year when I sampled pistachio pastes and didn't like it as well as the fiddyment farms, but I don't remember why at this point.  (It may be coarser.)   If you want a spread that's only 20% pistachios you could buy a 100% pistachio paste at $40/lb and then mix up your spread to suit your tastes and it would be a lot cheaper. 




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I have now produced one batch of ice cream and one gelato using the Fiddleyfarms pistachio paste (100%)  It is incredibly smooth, and both recipes were a success.  I have a friend with a vitamixer.  Think it might produce a smoother paste from nuts?  Do I roast the raw pistachios before making the pistachio past from scratch?  And what about added pistachio oil to thin it and smooth it further?  Thanks, as always to my pistachio-loving friends.

Edited by Tennessee Cowboy
typo (log)
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Uh-oh. Update on Modernist Cuisine recipe for Pistachio Gelato.  The tapioca/guar gum combination didn't work.  After being overnight in the freezer it's close to a brick.  When friends come over tonight, how long should I let it sit out on the counter so it will become scoopable but not melted?

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putting it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so should work better than softening it on the counter. Less will melt on the outside.


Starches and gums don't suppress the freezing point of the water or effect the hardening properties of the nut oils. These things have to be addressed in other ways.

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Notes from the underbelly

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There's plenty of sugar in that Modernist Cuisine recipe.  It seems strange that it froze so hard.  I don't remember that being an issue when I made it.  I don't think it has to do with your problem, but did you substitute guar gum for xanthan gum for some reason?  I seem to recall that they call for xanthan gum. 


Regarding do-it-yourself pistachio paste, I don't know if you'll get better results with a vitamix or not.  I have made nut butters in the food processor.  It can take a long time and it looks like nothing is happening, but if you wait and let the machine run for a really long time it eventually works.  Adding some pistachio oil may help keep it softer and hence near the blades rather than sticking to the sides, but I would add the minimal amount to keep things moving.   I've never gotten anything as smooth as the commercial nut pastes I've bought (nor as smooth as what I've made using my grain mill). 


Personally I would use roasted pistachios, either buy them roasted or roast them yourselves.   If you roast them too much they'll develop a roasted nut flavor that overwhelms the pistachio taste, though. 


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I put in a mix of guar and xanthum gum.  I assumed that guar and xanthum gum are equally potent, and used a similar amount of each in the mix.  BUT, I was using a scale that is accurate to only .1 (the .01 scale hasn't arrived from amazon), and I haven't figured out how to account for the part that remains stuck on the bowl.  So maybe I put in too little of the gums.  Thanks for the refrigerator suggestion Paul.  I'll do that.

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When weighing very small amounts I use weighing papers and very little remains on the paper. 




I checked with my wife about the pistachio gelato and she thought it wasn't particularly soft.  Since we actually served it after storing it in a cooler for several hours it was pretty warm at that point, and hence definitely soft.  So my memory may be bad.  I checked the book and it does say at the end of the recipe that "You may need to temper the gelato at room temperature slightly before serving it."


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Like most gums, guar and xanthan are synergistic, which means they're more powerful together than separate. In other words, you'll get a stronger effect from 1g of each mixed together than from 2g of either of them used separately. 


This is a feature, not a bug, as long as you're aware of it. It's one reason you usually see two or more gums used together in ice cream or anything else.

Notes from the underbelly

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10 hours ago, paulraphael said:


putting it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so should work better than softening it on the counter. Less will melt on the outside.


Thanks.  I followed your directions and it worked. 30 minutes after being moved to the refrigerator I could dip it.   However, the gelatin still has the grainy texture I associate with ice crystals.  Not sure what I did wrong. 

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Test results:  I tried the MC Gelato recipe and the icecreamscience recipe.  The MC recipe was  little too tame for my taste, and was barely scoopable. The icecreamscince recipe wins, hands down.  Smooth, not too much butterfat, scoopable right out of the freezer.  


Mix ins:  I tried three:  Pistachio Pralines, Pistachio Bark (pistachios and 72% cacao, melted) and a varietion on Jeni's Rosemary Bar nuts (coat nuts with egg whites and a little sugar and cardamom. Cook for 30 minutes at 325, stirring every 10 minutes).  The pralines were too sweet, the chocolate bark produced a reaction of "meh, why go to the trouble."  The Pistachio Bar nuts were the best.

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'Too tame."  Well, the flavor didn't jump out at me the way I expected.  Despite the absence of cream and the use of the best pistachio paste, it was subdued.  I chopped up some toasted pistachios and sprinkled them on top, and they had a lot more taste.  Also, the MC recipe was really icy.  The icecreamscience recipe was the smoothest I've ever made, by far, and I used the same pistachio paste in both.

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  • 3 weeks later...

To all of the egullet members who helped me perfect my pistachio ice cream recipe, I won the blue ribbon--first prize--at the annual Martha O'Bryan Ice Cream Crankin' fundraiser and competition.  Thanks for all of your help.  I did the following:  I used the recipe found at Icecreamscience.com for the cream.  I used the same web site to decide how much pistachio paste to put in (110 g to accompany liquid that had been reduced from 1000 g to 850 g, per the recipe.  I added extra pistachios that were prepared using a recipe adapted from Jeni's Ice Cream Cookbook (essentially, you mix the nuts with egg whites, add sugar and salt, and toast them in the oven for 30 minutes.  The eggwhite-sugar mixture seals out the cream so the nuts are still crispy when they hit your mouth).   


IMG_0029 (1).jpg

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17 hours ago, Tennessee Cowboy said:

I added extra pistachios that were prepared using a recipe adapted from Jeni's Ice Cream Cookbook (essentially, you mix the nuts with egg whites, add sugar and salt, and toast them in the oven for 30 minutes.  The eggwhite-sugar mixture seals out the cream so the nuts are still crispy when they hit your mouth).   

First, congratulations on your prize.  In my experience, you can't go wrong using the icecreamscience.com recipes.


This is a bit off-topic, but I am intrigued by the still-crispy pistachios, even in cream.  This is an ongoing issue with adding nuts to a cream ganache when making chocolate fillings.  A few weeks back I added toasted pistachios to such a ganache, and they stayed crispy (or as crispy as pistachios ever are) for a while, but eventually succumbed to sogginess.  Could you give a little more detail?  Are the egg whites unbeaten?  Do you just add enough of them to cover the nuts?  30 minutes seems a long time for toasting--is the temp very low?  Thanks for any help.

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On 6/16/2016 at 11:07 AM, Jim D. said:

First, congratulations on your prize.  In my experience, you can't go wrong using the icecreamscience.com recipes.


This is a bit off-topic, but I am intrigued by the still-crispy pistachios, even in cream.  This is an ongoing issue with adding nuts to a cream ganache when making chocolate fillings.  A few weeks back I added toasted pistachios to such a ganache, and they stayed crispy (or as crispy as pistachios ever are) for a while, but eventually succumbed to sogginess.  Could you give a little more detail?  Are the egg whites unbeaten?  Do you just add enough of them to cover the nuts?  30 minutes seems a long time for toasting--is the temp very low?  Thanks for any help.

Sorry that I didn't get to this sooner.  So everyone will see it, 30 minutes is a long time, but it's at 300 degrees Farenheit.  Don't know about the science involved, but maybe the long cooking time dries out the nuts so they stay crisp?  Don't know, but this worked for me.

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  • 2 years later...
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      I use a different lace mold to make a pattern on the top pot. Now it's time to do the rims. When I did the lace impressions around the pots, I used fondant, because I needed the stretchability of it to conform easily to the shape of the pot. A little stretchiness in this case is good. But when it's time to do the rims, I don't want ANY stretching going on whatsoever.....I want uniformly thick and perfectly straight strips, so for this I'm going to use modeling chocolate, which of course has been colored the same color as the fondant. See the neato embossing on my strip? I found that little embossing wheel at Seattle Pottery Supply, believe it or not, and it was cheap too. The embossers are interchangeable and it came with about 10 different patterns! I rolled out my strip, then embossed the pattern twice (one next to the other) then used my pizza wheel to cut nice straight even edges. I made two top strips and two bottom strips....the bottom strips are just plain.

      And here are the pots with all their details.....

      These guys are going into the walk-in for a while while I work on the other details. Gotta make the baby! First I start with a styrofoam core. The reason for this is for stability and less weight. There was a time in my career when I thought I shouldn't use ANYTHING that wasn't edible, but talk about making life hard. I've made things out of solid modeling chocolate, but they were very heavy and hard to support. Then over the years, I realized that people really don't eat the decorations anyway (except for a few overzealous kids), so I decided to reduce my chocolate expenses and weight by using styrofoam to bulk things out more and more. I pat out a disk of flesh colored modeling chocolate, and place my styrofoam ball in the middle.

      Then I bring the edges up around the ball and squeeze the chocolate together so that no seams show. I stick a couple of skewers in it so that I can hold it in one hand and model it with the other. Then I manipulate it in my surgeon-scrubbed hands to model the face, add a little nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair and of course, a dimple. The baby head needs to go somewhere while I work on other stuff.....oh, here's a good place.....right in the edge of my equipment box.

      I've been so good about taking pictures at nearly every step! But here's where I fail you.......when I get "in the zone"......meaning that I'm so intent on my little details....I sort of forget about the camera! Here's what I did in between this picture and the next two:
      *made the baby's shoulders and neck and arms out of modeling chocolate
      *sprinkled my cookie dirt inside the pots
      *dusted the centers of my flowers with luster and color, made the calyx's (sp?) and mounted *them on my green skewers
      *rolled modeling chocolate onto a skewer to form the umbrella stem
      *made the bottom banner and wrote on it
      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Porthos
      I picked up enough boneless short ribs to make 3 meals for my Sweetie and me. One meal will be pan-braised tonight. One has been vacuum-sealed and is in the freezer. My question is about seasoning, sealing, freezing, then defrosting and cooking at a later date. I'd like to season and seal the 3rd meal's worth. Can I use a dry rub on the meat, then seal, freeze, and cook at a later date? Does anyone else do this?
    • By newchef
      So I've now found myself at the water's edge of Modernist Cuisine.  Specifically, using sodium citrate for emulsifying all kinds of cheeses.  What I'm after is making an emulsified Parmesan sauce as well as another emulsified cheese sauce (most likely using Cheddar or Colby) that I can freeze and use later.  I'm a single guy and am no stranger of tweaking recipes for freezing but I haven't done it for modernist stuff yet.  I'd love to make a big batch of cheese sauce, freeze it into ice cubes for up to 3 months or so, and then take a few cubes out to thaw on a weeknight and toss with pasta, drizzle over veggies, etc.
      I looked at the modernist cuisine FAQ and saw this specific post about the cheese sauce that is "probably" freeze-able because it uses something called carageenan.  Has anyone been able to freeze sauce and keep it frozen for, say, a few months?  And not have to use carageenan?
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