I have to say, a bowl of homemade peach ice cream, made with ripe, juicy peaches is one of those things I could never resist. It’s delicious and full of summer flavors, a perfect frozen treat for those warm evenings. Add some vanilla bean seeds and you have created something for what your family members will keep coming back again and again.
This recipe takes a little bit of effort, it’s not the kind where you throw 5 ingredients together and start churning, but it’s absolutely worth it. The good thing is that this recipe is simple and, based on my own experience, fairly fail proof.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I love this year’s Niagara peaches. I could eat a dozen at one sitting. Last Saturday we went to the farmer’s market and got another 2 half-bushels of peaches. They are super ripe at this time and won’t last long, so most of them will be rinsed, cut into quarters and frozen for use during winter. But they are perfect like that for homemade peach ice cream.
What makes this recipe simple and fail proof is that is uses cornstarch and powdered milk as thickener and stabilizer, which I find a lot easier to work with. Making custard based ice creams can be a challenge – you really have to watch the temperature of the custard to make sure it doesn’t turn lumpy or grainy. And you have to cool it down fast by using an ice bath. In this recipe, while I suggest using an ice bath, you don’t really have to. I’ve done it both ways, with and without an ice bath, and the results were identical. The reason I suggest using an ice bath is to cut down on the cooling time. In this recipe all you need to make sure is that the temperature does not rise too quickly to avoid the milk boil over. That’s about it.
To freeze the homemade peach ice cream I am using my old, but very capable Cuisinart 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker. I’ve been dreaming about a pro ice cream maker, that doesn’t require the hassle of pre-freezing a bowl every time I want to make some ice cream. But, guess what, I am still happy with this one and can’t really find a compelling reason to upgrade. I just keep the bowl in my freezer at all times, and can whip up two quarts of ice cream any time I am ready to do so.
For this ice cream recipe I chose to use pureed peaches, but it really doesn’t matter – you may choose to dice them or even slice them. If you like chunks of peaches for some texture, add diced peaches. Another option is to use half pureed peaches and half diced.
To make sure the ice cream does not become too soft after adding peach puree you may want to put it in the freezer for about 20-25 minutes while the milk mix if freezing in the ice cream maker. You will notice some softening still, but that will not affect the texture. Transfer the ice cream from the ice cream maker into a container and place in the freezer for at least two hours before serving.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, no problem. There are at least 5-6 methods to make good ice cream without an ice cream maker. I’ve tried a few in the past and my favorite one is the ‘Freeze and Stir’ method by David Lebovitz, described here. Another method that does not require expensive appliances, such as a food processor, is described here. Many like this method, though the drawback here is that you have to have a fairly large freezer and a bag of ice. Whatever the ‘no-ice-cream-maker’ method is though, it’s painfully time consuming. You may end up eating half your ice cream before it’s fully frozen.
So, how’s this ice cream compare to the custard based ice cream? I would say it definitely tastes lighter and less fatty, but there is a nice body and velvety mouth feel. It’s a clear winner in my book. The only downside is that you’ll probably want to eat more of it as it tastes lighter. Is that really a downside?
- 2½ cups / 600 g whole milk (3.2%)
- 2 cups / 500 g heavy cream
- 6 heaping Tbsp / 70 g powdered milk (instant skim milk powder)
- 1 cup less 1 Tbsp / 180 g granulated sugar
- 1½ Tbsp / 20 g corn starch
- 2 vanilla beans (substitute with two teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 1½ cup ripe peaches, pureed (3 medium size peaches)
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans with a pairing knife. Combine sugar, vanilla bean seeds and powdered milk in a medium size pot. Slowly add 2 cups of milk while constantly stirring. Add the bean pods to the milk.
- Prepare the corn starch by combining it with the remaining half cup of milk. Whisk until corn starch and milk are blended and no lumps remain. Set aside.
- Slowly bring the milk to a gentle boil, add cornstarch and keep stirring constantly, scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the mix thickens enough to coat the spatula, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the stove.
- Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the mix into the bowl. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
- Slowly add heavy cream, constantly stirring, cover and refrigerate overnight or longer (up to two days is fine). If you like light, airy ice cream, whip the heavy cream until you see soft peaks forming, then combine with the milk mix.
- Freeze the mix in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adding peach puree about 5 minutes before freezing is complete.
- Transfer the finished ice cream from the ice cream maker bowl into a container and freeze for at least two hour before serving. If the ice cream is frozen overnight or longer, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before scooping.