Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

The heart of summer is upon us in Denver. Warm mornings give way to hot middays give way to the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. Through it all my mind is often on how to cool off when the summer oven is on. Ice cream helps.

A few summers ago I took the plunge into ice cream maker ownership. Ignoring the counsel of fellow ice cream machine owners who warned it was a novelty appliance that would lose its luster after my romance with watching ice cream churn wore off, I threw down some money for a machine with the commitment to use it consistently during the summers while it lived in my kitchen.

Alice’s first summer last year kept me occupied and homemade anything was difficult to achieve, but this summer I’ve broken out the machine a few times not only to appease my ice cream needs but to involve my always inquisitive toddler in the process. For the record, she was less interested in the custard base preparation that happens during the first half of the ice cream making. I wasn’t offended. Few folks get their thrills from watching someone carefully stir hot milk, sugar, and eggs to create custard rather than a sweet scrambly mess, but she was all about the ice cream churning process. (Fortunately, that novelty hasn’t worn off for me yet, either.) And once she tasted the soft-serve version of today’s ice cream recipe, she was so overcome with emotion that all she could utter was, “More. More. More ice cream.” To the point that I had to redirect her elsewhere to avoid a meltdown for both of us.

Below you’ll find the recipe for Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream. While I stand by an earlier Peaches and Cream Ice Cream I made two years ago, I’ve come to prefer ice cream with tang. If frozen yogurt wasn’t so overrun with sugar, I’d probably eat it instead of ice cream. Buttermilk is my way to get the complex flavor of fermented milk into an ice cream than doesn’t send my blood sugar through the roof. Also, it’s the perfect foil to summer fruit and berries. Make it soon, and use leftover buttermilk for an easy pie filling I’ll tell you all about next post.

Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream
Image by author.

Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

– 3/4 lb peaches
– 3/4 tsp organic lemon zest
– 1 TBS lemon juice
– 5 large egg yolks
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
– 1/2 cup 2% milk
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Prepare the peach puree:
1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Using a sharp paring knife, mark an X on the bottom of each peach. Add the peaches to the saucepan and blanch until the skins start to peel away, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the peaches to the ice bath and let cool completely. Wipe out the saucepan.

2. Peel and chop the peaches. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl and whisk in the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Set aside.

Make the base:
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks to just break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 TBS). Set aside.

4. In a heavy stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, and the remaining sugar (6 TBS) and place the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.

5. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pan.

6. Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

7. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the bowl into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. (In this recipe, it’s particularly important that the base is cold before proceeding to the next step; otherwise the buttermilk will cause the mixture to “break” and lose its emulsion.)

Freeze the ice cream:
8. Add the peach buttermilk mixture to the cold base and whisk to blend.

9. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.

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