Southern Recipes: Georgia Peach Ice Cream

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By Damon Lee Fowler

“We just had peach ice cream,” a friend shrugged, relating the end of a dinner party she’d recently given on a hot summer evening.

“Just” ice cream.

There was a time when no one would have been so cavalier about something as rare and sublime as frozen cream on a hot summer evening. Before the development of manufactured ice in the mid-nineteenth century, frozen treats were possible only so long as the ice harvested over the winter lasted in earth-insulated ice houses.

Even after manufactured ice became common, until recently ice cream in summer remained a luxury with no equal. Perhaps we take it for granted today partly because of the thousands of cartons of commercial ice cream stacked, like concrete blocks, in every supermarket’s freezer. But being common as ants on a picnic isn’t all that makes them seem ordinary: most of them just can’t compare with the frozen creams from our past.

“For making ice-cream,” wrote Georgia’s own Annabella Hill in 1867, “genuine cream is, of course, preferable.” The author of one of America’s most influential cookbooks until well into the twentieth century, Mrs. Hill considered custard base an inferior substitute for making frozen cream, especially when it came to peach and most any other fruit-based varieties, and she was absolutely dead-on.

While custard is a fine base for vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and cinnamon, for fruit there’s just nothing to compare with pure, unadulterated cream.

In Mrs. Hill’s day, ice creams were often set in decorative tin molds, which can still be had from antique stores and restaurant suppliers. But while fanciful molds may be fun for a dinner party, most of us would rather scoop it right out of the churn, the way we used to do on those soft summer evenings, when at last the ice cream was pronounced ready. As we left off chasing fireflies in the twilight and settled in with a bowl, for a few fleeting moments, the world seemed safe and perfect.

Georgia Peach Ice Cream

Before you begin, heating the cream before chilling and freezing it may seem like a contradiction, but before pasteurization, it was necessary to temper the cream. Today even if it’s pasteurized, heating it is still necessary for infusing the flavorings. It also helps the sugar dissolve and improves the frozen cream’s texture.

Makes about 1½ quarts, serving about 6

1 quart heavy cream
1¼ cups sugar
Salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, optional
4-6 ripe, juicy peaches
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Bring the cream almost to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Off the heat stir in 1 cup of sugar and a tiny pinch of salt until dissolved. Add the nutmeg, if using, and let cool. Meanwhile, peel the peaches over a glass or ceramic bowl to catch all their juices. Halve, pit, and roughly chop them. Put half of them in the bowl with their juice and puree the remainder. Add the puree to the bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and lemon juice. Let stand 30 minutes.

Stir in the cream and chill at least 2 hours. Prepare an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions, and freeze the cream until almost set—a little stiffer than soft-serve ice cream.

Pack it into a mold or covered freezable container and freeze until completely solidified. To unmold, wrap the mold with a towel heated in the clothes dryer. Loosen the edge with a knife, invert over a serving plate and lift the mold away. If it won’t budge, reheat the towel and rewrap for a minute more. To avoid last minute fuss, unmold at least an hour before serving, cover, and keep frozen.

– From Classical Southern Cooking, 1995.

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Reader Comments:

54321

Just in time for making peach icecream, Paula. My family just went to a "pick your own ".orchard, peaches ofcourse, and on to the rest of "Annie's vegtable farm". Had a ball. Sorry that it is not your Georgia peaches but they are mighty fine and I will use your receipe. Thanks. IDA

By Ida Dohoney on August 03, 2014

54321

FANTASTIC! It was more like a sweet cream than icecream but everyone just loved the results! The texture was fantastic! Thanks Paula! Jenn P.

By Jenn Piltawer on September 03, 2011

54321

I made this for a family get together and talk about a hit! I was a bit hesitant but boy, was I rewarded! Made a bit too much to fit in my counter top freezer, so I used the left over with a little milk the next day for a drink.

By Christy Youngblood on September 01, 2011

54321

Where was this recipe a month ago when I had fresh Georgia Freestone Peaches!!! Would have loved to try it then. I guess I will have to wait another year. :( Thanks for the recipe!!

By Patty on August 25, 2011

54321

HI PAULA, SURE WOULD LIKE A RECIPE FOR KEY LIME ICE CREAM,HOMEMADE PLEASE.ALSO KEY LIME COOKIES TO MATCH. HOPE YOU ARE DOING O.K. STAY SAFE

By MARY FOSTER on August 24, 2011

54321

IT IS SO FUNNY THAT YOU ARE GIVING A PEACH RECIPE. ON A RECENT TRIP TO GEORGIA, MY DAUGHTERS AND I THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE PEACHES EVERYWHERE SINCE IT IS THE PEACH STATE. WE EVEN FOUND VERY LITTLE PEACH ITEMS ANYWHERE. AT A HILTON IN ATLANTA THEY HAD PEACH COBBLER, BUT PERSONALLY MINE IS BETTER. NO PEACH DRINKS, ETC. I THOUGHT WE WOULD BE FLOODED BY PEACHES. IS THERE A PARTICULAR PEACH SEASON IN GEORGIA??

By SUSAN SMITH on August 24, 2011

54321

By Victoria Hudson on August 23, 2011

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm