If you follow national food holidays, then you might know that yesterday was National Peach Ice Cream Day. Years ago, I came across a super-easy recipe for fresh peach ice cream in the New York Times Magazine.
It’s the kind of recipe that makes you want to make fresh ice cream as soon as possible: the ingredient list is short and seasonal, and the technique is simple. What could be more summery, more luscious than fresh juicy peaches (or any stone fruit, for that matter), rich cream, sugar, and lemon juice swirled together in your own ice cream machine? And better yet, there’s no custard to make, which cuts the ice-cream-making time in half! You read that right: no eggs to separate, no cooking, no straining, no “did I overcook the custard?” worries.
That NY Times Magazine recipe, which has become a summer standard in my house, was a timely find for me all those years ago. I’d learned to make ice cream using a classic custard base, but it’s a time-consuming process that takes about 12 hours when you factor in the “best practice” of chilling the custard overnight. Custard-based ice cream, while delicious and indulgent, definitely requires planning ahead to make at home. Finding a no-cooking version changed things for me — I could whip up a rich, fruity ice cream in a few hours! (It’s also inspired me to make ice creams with other stone fruit, which leads me to…)
This year I’ve used that simple recipe as the inspiration for homemade apricot ice cream. Why? you might ask. Why not stick to the tried-and-true, especially when peaches are so plentiful and still in season? Simple: because I don’t have peaches. But I do have apricots — lots of them. So much so that they’re taking up most of my freezer, and it’s time start using up some to make room for other food.
I love apricots, but the sad truth is that they have a short season and don’t keep long. Most of the fruit on my tree ripened within one week, and I was having a hard time keeping up with the harvest (not to mention trying to stay ahead of the greedy squirrels and birds in the process). Not wanting to waste any of the lovely fruit, I grabbed everything I could: the perfect, the bruised, the really soft, and the verging-on-overripe. Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I opted to freeze most of what I harvested, especially the soft and overripe fruit. This “ugly fruit” is perfect for ice creams, sorbets, sauces — any recipe in which the appearance of the fruit doesn’t matter.
So, if you find yourself with a bounty of apricots and have exhausted your jam and tart recipes, try this Apricot Honey Ice Cream.
Recipe: Apricot Honey Ice Cream
I love the honeyed flavor of very ripe apricots balanced with a bit of tartness. The addition of mild-flavored honey and lemon juice play up the sweet-tart components of the fruit and provide some contrast to the richness of the cream.
Yield: Slightly less than 1 quart of ice cream
Adapted from “Frozen Assets,” by Julia Reed, NY Times Magazine, June 29, 2003
What you need:
Ice cream maker
1-quart container with lid
1¼ pounds very ripe fresh or frozen apricots (I used frozen)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 – 1½ tablespoons light-colored, mild honey (such as orange blossom)
- Place the fruit in a large bowl (or, if frozen, in a flat dish to thaw).
If frozen, let the fruit thaw at room temperature, which should take about an hour.
- Sprinkle fruit with sugar and lemon juice, mixing well. Let the fruit macerate for about 30 minutes.
Using the back of a rubber spatula or large spoon, press on the fruit, breaking it up as much as possible. We’re going for a “rustic” ice cream with some chunks of apricots, not a fine purée.
- Optional: Slip the skins from the fruit and press them against a fine-mesh strainer set over a small bowl to extract any remaining juice and flesh. Add the extracted juice/flesh back into the fruit. Discard the skins.
It’s up to you whether you want to keep the skins on the fruit or remove them. I found that once the fruit thawed, the skins easily came away, so I just removed them. Plus, it’s a texture thing. If you’re ok with the skins, keep ’em and skip this step.
- Combine the cream and honey in a small saucepan, place on the stove top, and bring to a simmer.
I prefer the honey flavor to complement the apricot, so I used 1 tablespoon. If you prefer a more dominant honey flavor in your ice cream, use up to 1½ tablespoons.
- Once the cream has reached a simmer (lots of tiny, frothy bubbles around the edge of the saucepan), remove the saucepan from the heat and let the cream cool on the stove top.
- Combine the cream and fruit mixture and taste for sweetness and acidity.
Here’s your chance to make any adjustments to mix. If you prefer a sweeter ice cream, add a bit more sugar. If you want to add some brightness, add a bit more lemon juice.
- Cover the mixture and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours — or, if you can wait, overnight — so that the flavors combine and the mixture thickens.
- After the mixture has chilled, process it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.
- While the mixture is churning in the ice cream maker, place a 1-quart container in the freezer.
You want to transfer your churned ice cream (which is partially frozen) into a chilled container to reduce melting on contact.
- Transfer the ice cream to the prepared container and freeze for 2 — 4 hours before serving.
After about 2 hours, the ice cream will have a softer consistency, so if you prefer a texture that’s more soft-serve-like, then don’t freeze it as long. For a harder texture, freeze for 3 — 4 hours.