The biggest fan of peach ice cream I ever knew was my Uncle Irving. He was tall and handsome and blessed with thick, auburn hair, a baseball enthusiast and not given to rhapsodizing about food. But his one real culinary passion was fresh peach ice cream. You could only buy it during the summer, he told me and his daughter, my best friend and cousin Leslie. So, sometime around the middle of July he would walk down the street to the local grocer and buy a carton of Breyer’s. “The first of the season,” he would tell us, with authority.
"You can’t get fresh peach ice cream any other time and it wouldn’t be worth eating anyway, even if you could" he also insisted.
I remember how he showed us the chunks of real Georgia (he said) peaches. Not just peach flavor or flecks of peach. It had real pieces of peach in a vanilla base. It was creamy and it tasted like good peaches, with that floral smell that lets you know summer is ripe and will be for many more weeks.
Today may be National Peach Ice Cream Day, but peach ice cream is a treat that’s summer-long. I learned that many many years ago from my uncle.
Peach ice cream is the kind of thing you eat by itself. It’s too delicate for fudge sauce, sprinkles or marshmallow fluff. If you have an ice cream making machine it’s also easy to make at home and you can add nice size chunks of fruit, just like in the old days.
Homemade Peach Ice Cream
6 medium ripe peaches, peeled, pit removed
1 cup sugar, preferably superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2-inch piece vanilla bean
2 cups whipping cream
5 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk
Chop the peaches into small chunks. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice. Toss the ingredients and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, place it in a saucepan with the whipping cream and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until hot, and bubbles form around the sides of the pan (do not boil). Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. In a larger saucepan, place the egg yolks, remaining sugar and salt and beat using a hand mixer at medium speed for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and pale in color. Remove the vanilla bean from the hot cream. Gradually pour the hot cream into the egg-sugar mixture and stir (use a wooden spoon or other similar utensil, not a whisk or beater) until the mixture is well blended. Return the saucepan to the cooktop and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 12-15 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. Stir in the milk. Chill in the refrigerator. Stir in the peach mixture. Place in an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts
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