Written in September 2012
After a two week journey through Vancouver and Seattle, I learned one important lesson in ice cream making:
The choice of ingredients always shine through the recipes. Particularly in ice cream where the taste is based on the quality of the ingredients.
So when the rosy peaches, juicy lemons, and cinnamon come directly from the source—unfiltered, organic, fresh—there is a profound change of taste. Yet like many home cooks, I have often taken the most cost-effective and time-efficient methods of using extracts and pre-mixed ingredients ($4 for artificial vanilla extract? Sure!).
A few years in 2008, I spontaneously showed up to an early screening of Food Inc, which changed the way I shopped for groceries. It takes only a little more effort to use whole ingredients (e.g., substituting cinnamon sticks for ground cinnamon or fresh lemons for bottles of lemon juice. For months afterward, I shopped only at Whole Foods and at farmers markets. The latter was the most intriguing based on meeting the farmers, the colors at every food stalls, and the missing middlemen.
In Seattle, after talking to Adria from Parfait (who talked about her culinary awakening in France where local produce was abundant and cooking with fresh ingredients is a way of life), I went to the Alemany Farmers Market with only a singular purpose: To obtain the fresh ingredients for my next batch of ice cream.
That’s how I came upon the peach. (A big influence was observing Tracy of Social make a peach sorbet at her kitchen on my last day in Seattle.)
The peach is the quintessential fruit of the summer. The fruit that Alice Waters lovingly serves whole, unpeeled, unpitted rolling about on a plate at Chez Panisse. The fuzz that repels people yet draws them closer and closer to the juice.
- Currently in-season in California
- Typically have between 35 and 40 calories
- Associated with the “unluckiest” colony
At the farmers market, the peaches called out to me. And also the women who called out (near closing time), “One dollar per pound! EVERYTHING IS NOW ONE DOLLAR PER POUND!” Fighting past the competitive old Chinese ladies, I grabbed an empty bag and filled it up with all the available stone fruit. White peaches first. Then some plums—purple and green. Then topping off with yellow peaches.
After accidentally gorging on all the plums (you cannot stop yours truly from eating fruit) and some accidental peaches, all that remained were 6 white peaches and 5 yellow peaches. Curious about how the sorbet will differ for each peach, I used the same method for each. Interestingly, the skin came off easily after roasting the yellow peaches. In contrast, the skin for white peaches came off in unsightly shreds—so I eventually just pureed it skins and all.
Results between the two? Both sorbets spoke well to their source ingredients. The yellow peach sorbet had that sour taste that I loved—it was balanced well with the hint of lemon juice. The white peach sorbet was sweeter and spoke of berries—it was very similar to the raspberry lemon sorbet.
I can gorge on this sorbet all day, but I am trying to reserve some for my curious ice cream tasters.
Adapted from Seattle PI:
5 or 6 peaches (6 is ideal for this recipe to have intense peach flavor, but 5 works as well because I obviously ate 1 too many)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for Baker’s sugar for easy dissolving, so I pulsed the granulated sugar a few times prior to mixing with other ingredients)
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt
Halve the peaches and remove the pit. Sprinkle brown sugar over the peaches. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes.
Peel the skins from the peaches. Be careful as the free-flowing juice and peach flesh can be very hot! Roasting brings out the flavor…and technically should make the skin easy to peel. If the skin is not easy to peel, leave it on. Depending on your preference on texture, the skin can be strained out later.
In a blender or food processor, puree with the juice of 1 lemon (or 1 tablespoon of juice) and sugar. Add more or less lemon juice to taste.
It is possible to churn immediately (mixture will be room temperature if the ingredients are at room temperature), but for better results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt at the beginning of churning to intensify the flavors.
The result will be easy to scoop and does not freeze into ice blocks. (Yay!)