Marian Carcache: Gardenias blend with the sweetness of honeysuckle

Marian Carcache: Gardenias blend with the sweetness of honeysuckle

As much as I love the smell of cedar and pine at Christmas and bonfires at Halloween, even those scents can’t compare to the fragrant night air that permeates my back yard throughout late spring and summer.

It starts with the tea olive and Kiss-Me-at-the-Gate’s early blooms, and is followed closely by chinaberry blossoms. Later in the summer, kudzu will flower and share its grape Kool-Aid smell with the sweet-scented pink puffs of the mimosa trees, the wonderful night-blooming Four O’clocks, and the jasmine I found a few years ago at the Asian Supermarket.

But right now one of the miracles I mark time by has happened: the gardenias are in bloom, mingling their intoxicating sweetness with the thick wall of honeysuckle that covers my back fence. I can’t quite bring myself to cut it, so I learned several years ago to make ice cream with its white blooms.

When last year came and went without me making a single batch of honeysuckle ice cream, I vowed that this year would be different. As I write, there are honeysuckle petals soaking in Sweet Cream Half and Half in my refrigerator. Every morning, I harvest a handful of the whitest blooms, pinch the tiny green tips off, rinse them with cold water, pat them dry, and place them into a covered container of sweetened half and half to be made into ice cream.

Even though dairy products stop my nose up and make my head and stomachache, those discomforts are a small price to pay for the exquisite experience of eating honeysuckle ice cream once every summer.


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