Somewhere in my travels I have heard a person’s rump be compared to a ripe peach; so pert and juicy you want to take a bite out of it. I think I would rather be literal and take a bite out of an actual peach. All winter long I stare balefully at the stacks of hard peaches as they sit in pallid orange pyramids at the grocery store. Much like a tomato, I find it hard to buy them, knowing what is coming. Summer. July. August. September in my luckiest times. Farmer’s market peaches so juicy you have to stand over a sink due to the river of juice that bursts forth as you sink your teeth into the sunny sweet flesh. I’m sure there are several lovely derrieres out there in the world. I would still prefer to take a bite out of an actual peach.
I will eat peaches straight up, I adore making a succulent pie with a splash of dark rum, and who can deny the beauty of a jewel-toned peach preserve? But summer (even though we are technically just past it) brings out another deep and abiding love. Ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, I salivate over the thought of a certain dark chocolate ice cream from my favorite ice cream place in my neighborhood, but of course I had to explore making my own ice cream, and of course this had to involved fruit so fresh it almost seemed a shame to freeze it.
But of course, just straight peach? Peaches in vanilla? Seemed a little, well, vanilla. The peaches needed a home with a bit of zing to balance out their velvet sweet. Enter the ginger. Steeped in cream. I’ll just let you sit on that a while.
Have you thought about it? Dense, creamy ice cream with this tantalizing streak of spicy ginger floating up out of the luscious icy creaminess as it dances across your tongue. Bright, smoothly sweet peaches swirled in, dancing a tango with the ginger. Do you want to make it? Good. This is not a quick ice cream. No homemade ice cream is. But once you have made it, you realize you have to do it again. Flavors start whirling through your mind, every spice and item of produce in the house becomes a likely candidate. No plain vanilla will ever do again. Unless you do it with a nice fat fresh vanilla bean, scraping out all the seeds. That’ll do. That’ll do.
Ginger Peach Ice Cream
(this almost overflowed my 1 1/ 2 quart ice cream maker, especially once the peaches were added. I had to ultimately mix in the peaches after the churning.)
2 c. heavy cream (there is no such thing as good low fat ice cream. You can keep telling yourself that, but no.)
1 c. whole milk
¾ c. sugar, divided
1 tsp. good vanilla extract
2 ½” ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ – 2 lbs. peaches (err lower, trust me) peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 egg yolks
Combine peaches, ½ c. sugar, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
In a heavy saucepan, gently heat 1 c. cream, the whole milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and ginger. Do not let boil. Heat just until tiny bubbles start to appear around the edge. Remove from heat and let steep for one hour.
After one hour, grab another bowl and whisk the egg yolks until light and frothy. Strain and gently reheat cream mixture (remember, no boiling), and scoop ½ c. of the mixture out and add to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add the egg mix slowly back into the pan, whisking constantly. Keep stirring over gentle heat until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. (Conventional wisdom says to heat to 170-175 degrees. The back of the spoon thing works too.) Pour into a container with the remaining 1 c. cream and stir to combine. Cover and chill for at least three hours.
Now for the final fun! Remove the peaches and the cream mixture from the fridge, and strain the peach juice into the cream mixture, stirring to combine. Pour into ice cream maker and process according to maker’s instructions. In the last five minutes or so, add in the peaches. If your ice cream maker is almost overflowing like mine was, once the ice cream has reached the desired consistency, transfer to a freezer container and gently fold them in. Freeze the ice cream for at least two hours before eating. And then eat it. Merrily.