Stone fruit is at its peak season, so grab ‘em while the gettin’s good. Peaches are one of July’s showstoppers for a million juicy, sweet reasons. My trees are going gangbusters and at the farmers market you can smell the sweetness three stalls away.
Still, peaches and other stone fruit are a little tricky for the home gardener because it seems that all the beautiful fruit becomes ripe at the same exact moment. This abundance of fruit mixed with my summer haze has not been a good combination.
Basket after basket of fruit on my kitchen counter has forced me to reach for deep inner motivation. All I really want to do is take long walks on the beach, drink ice tea and finish reading Zelda….
Focus, Valerie! Back to peaches…but maybe it’s time for a road trip up the coast? Just a nice little a change of scenery? A timeout that involves room service and dinner reservations?
Photo from www.stoppingineverystate.com
OK, really back to peaches. This week alone we’ve snacked on them by the basketful, frozen some for green juice, baked a few peach galettes which were tucked in the freezer for a future dinner party and small batches of jam are lined up in my fridge and pantry. But the star of the stone fruit show has been this amazing fresh peach ice cream.
I’ve tried my hand at a few different recipes over the years and this one is my favorite. I’ve made this recipe using nectarines and peaches, both versions are outstanding. I mean, how can you go wrong with anything Alice Waters and the happenings at Chez Panisse? I haven’t changed a word from the original recipe, c’est parfait! The trick is to smash your peaches just so— you want little nibbles of fruit, not icy chunks that get lodged into your molars— save that for the ice tea.
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
From Chez Panisse Desserts, by Lindsey Remolif Shere
Makes a generous quart:
1 ½ cups whipping cream
¾ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 pound very ripe, good-flavored peaches
Vanilla extract to taste
Make the custard a day ahead so it can chill. Warm the cream and ½ cup of the sugar in a non-corroding saucepan until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Whisk the egg yolks just enough to mix them and stir in some of the hot cream mixture to heat them. Return to the pan and cook until the custard coats the spoon. Strain into a container and chill.
When you are ready to freeze the ice cream, peel and pit the peaches and cut in thin slices into a bowl. Toss them with the remaining ¼ cup sugar and let stand for an hour or so until the sugar is dissolved. Crush the peaches with a potato masher or something that will crush them fine, but don’t puree them. You don’t want large chunks of peach, which will freeze like pieces of gravel in your ice cream, but you do want tiny pieces of peach, not a smooth puree. You should have about 1 ½ cups of peaches and juice. Mix this with the custard and add a few drops of vanilla to taste.
Freeze according to the directions on your ice cream maker.