Everything's Peachy

What I love most about summer is the fruit. Yes I love a nice swimming pool and a glass of lemonade, but what I could not live without is fruit. Juicy watermelon, sweet peaches, ripe cantaloupe and meaty tomatoes. I could subsist exclusively on this stuff. And I mostly do.

As of late, I have been digging the peaches. For several years, Texas peaches have been puny and ugly because of the drought. But this year's weather combination of early winter warmth, no late freeze and generous rains have produced a bumper crop of sweet and juicy peaches! I am forever grateful. Eating peaches from Georgia just doesn't cut it. Not for this Texas girl.

Farmer John shows off a few of the radical peaches in the bunch.
In honor of this year's bumper crop, and the fact that one of our farmers market members has 4,500 peach trees and 48 varieties on his family farm in Fredericksburg, we're planning on everything being peachy during July. We'll have lots and lots of peaches and almost a dozen of our vendors will feature edibles using fruit from Engels Farm.

I spent a lot of time last week learning what everyone is going to make and and I can't shake peaches out of my head. Really. It's crazy. It's what I think about. Peach lemonade. Peach smoothies. Peach jam. Pork belly and peach tamales. Fried peach pies. Peach ice cream. Peach-frangipane tart. Peaches and cream popsicles. Grilled peaches, onions and bacon salad with buttermilk dressing. Peach sorbet.

It all sounds ridiculously delicious, but it's the peach ice cream that is calling my name. Again and again. Thick and creamy, chock full of sweet and juicy peaches. Yes, the real deal. With cream and sugar. Just like Jeni would make it. (Perhaps you have heard of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams? Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, this ice cream is the rage and can also be found in specialty grocery stores. You may recall that Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home cookbook was on my 2011 Christmas wish list. Santa didn't read my memo and my birthday is coming up. Maybe I'll get lucky this time.)

So I am listening to that little voice inside my head that screams "peach ice cream", and I just do it because I think this is going to make several fathers I know very happy on Father's Day! However, I would recommend you just make this ice cream. Because. You. Can. (And you should.)

Or wait until July 1 when we kick-off a month-long celebration, Everything's Peachy at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market in July, where there will be plenty of peach ice cream for everyone!

Buen provecho!

Peach Ice Cream
The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe using Jeni's Ice Cream Base

Print recipe

If you're looking for a rich and creamy ice cream base that you can add anything to, look no further. This is the real deal. A winner. Hands-down. Trust me. I know ice cream. I recommend making the base the night before you want to make ice cream so it can cool and chill thoroughly in the fridge overnight.

Add strawberries, blackberries, melted chocolate, espresso coffee granules or chocolate chips to make it special or just use this recipe for a spectacular vanilla ice cream you won't soon forget.

Makes about 1 quart

2 1/4 cups whole milk, organic
4 teaspoons corn starch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, organic
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

About 1 lb. ripe peaches, washed and sliced (approximately 6-7 medium sized peaches will make about 2 cups)

In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of milk and the corn starch, and set aside.

In a 4 qt. saucepan, whisk together the remaining 2 cups of milk with the cream, sugar, honey and salt. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Be careful as the mixture will expand, so stir it frequently. You may need to turn the heat down just a bit to make sure it does not boil over. Stir in slurry of cornstarch and milk and return to a boil, cooking and stirring for another 2 minutes.

Place cream cheese in the slurry bowl, add 1/4 cup hot milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Remove milk mixture from the heat and whisk in cream cheese mixture. Let cool slightly and add vanilla. Stir to combine.

The vanilla bean paste adds a great dimension of flavor and
I just love the flecks of beans throughout!
Pour mixture into a container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, before you are ready to make the ice cream, wash the peaches well and slice. I prefer to leave the skin on as it adds texture, flavor, color and added nutrients. Place sliced peaches in a bowl and, depending on how sweet (or not) your peaches are, sprinkle with sugar or Ideal (no calorie sugar substitute). Let the bowl of peaches sit on the kitchen counter and macerate for 1-2 hours. Take 2/3 of the peaches and blend until pureed, leaving the remaining 1/3 peaches sliced.

Add the peach puree to the milky base and stir well to combine. Pour the peachy-milk mixture into the ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is just about ready, add in the peach slices and let process another few minutes.

Transfer ice cream to a storage container and freeze until set. Serve in ice cream cones and feel like you're 5 years old again!


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