Pagoto Kaimaki: Orchid Ice Cream With Gum Mastic

Orchid ice cream
Richard Jung / Getty Images
Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 6 to 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
376 Calories
28g Fat
28g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 376
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 18g 89%
Cholesterol 88mg 29%
Sodium 51mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 28g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 130mg 10%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 165mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Greek: παγωτό καϊμάκι, pronounced pah-ghoh-TOH kah-ee-MAH-kee

This fabulous, creamy ice cream calls for gum mastic, that gives it an almost chewy texture, and salep, used as a thickening agent. Both give the ice cream a unique taste. Golden gum mastic from Chios (mastiha) may be available through Greek grocers, and salep (salepi, sahlep, sahlab—a powder made from the root of an orchid plant) may be available from Greek, Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish, or kosher markets. This is a smoother preparation than the Turkish dondurma.

Serve alone, with a syrup topping or spoon sweet, and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Kaimaki is also served with syrupy sweets like karythopita (Greek walnut cake).


  • 7/8 to 1 teaspoon golden gum mastic, ground

  • 1 1/8 cups sugar, divided

  • 3 cups whole milk, divided

  • 3 level teaspoons salep

  • 3 cups double cream, or whipping cream

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Grind the mastic. Mastic is usually sold in drops of resin which can stick to the mortar and pestle during grinding. To avoid, freeze mastic for 15 minutes before using and place it along with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the mortar. Grind with the pestle.

  3. In a mixing bowl, beat 1/2 cup of the milk with the ground mastic (and sugar used to grind) until completely blended.

  4. Dissolve the salep in 1/2 cup of cold milk.

  5. Warm the remaining milk in a saucepan over low heat.

  6. Beating the mastic mixture at high speed, add the warm milk, then the dissolved salep.

  7. Add remaining sugar and cream.

  8. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and boil over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and clumping. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

    • Ice cream maker: When cooled, transfer to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
    • Without ice cream maker: Transfer to a metal container, cover with a tightly fitting lid or foil and place in the freezer. Every half hour, remove from freezer, transfer to a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until frothy. Quickly place back in the metal container and put in the freezer. Repeat 3 more times.
  9. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Note about buying salep: The most common form available has been premixed with sugar and other additives. The best salep for this recipe is the pure ground orchid root if you can find it. If not, use 4 to 5 times the amount of salep called for in the recipe and decrease the sugar to 1 cup.

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