Friday, September 11, 2009

Peach ice cream

This batch came out great! The perfect proportions seem to be:

2 cups cream (we use raw cream -- whole milk will also work)
2 egg yolks (from pasture-raised chickens which don't have salmonella like the factory-raised ones)
1/4 cup unprocessed maple syrup (grade B)
2 lbs. ripe peaches (skinned, pitted, and chopped very small)

Freeze the inner crock of the ice cream maker for several days for best results. Then assemble it, plug it in, turn it on, mix all the ingredients together & pour them in. Add the stirring blade and lid, and let it work its magic for about 20 minutes. If you freeze the crock sufficiently long, the ice cream will come out perfectly. We transfer the churned ice cream to shallow plastic containers for freezing, but you can eat it right away if you like (though it will be very soft).

Making ice cream using only fresh ingredients and seasonal fruit has taught me two important lessons:

1) it's really important to use plenty of fruit! I've learned this the hard way.
2) what we've come to think of as "ice cream" (i.e. the kind you get from a carton or on your cone at the store) actually bears very little resemblance to the real thing.

It's a little like how we've come to think of the creations at McDonald's as hamburgers, whereas a real hamburger made from actual ground beef will taste very different. Even when you use plenty of fruit, homemade ice cream just isn't going to have that uniform "fruit" flavor we've come to expect. It's absolutely delicious - but in a different, more wholesome, less overwhelming way. I now realize that even the more natural kinds of commercial ice cream have got to be chock full of flavorings or they simply wouldn't taste like much of anything (after all, when was the last time you found fruit listed as the first ingredient on the side of your carton?). Ice cream made the way I've described would come at a very premium price. These ingredients (all sourced from local farms) cost us about $12 ($5 for the cream, $6 for the peaches, $1 for the maple syrup & eggs) and make about a quart of ice cream which lasts us usually 2-3 weeks (when you're eating nutrient-dense meals you don't feel the need for as much dessert). With the standard markup found in stores, and factoring in all the costs of the factory, workers, power, packaging, shipping, advertising, stocking, checkout, and the plastic bag to carry it home in, it is a wonder to me that we can buy some very cheap brands of ice cream at the store for $1.99! In fact, when you consider all the costs I've just mentioned, doesn't it kind of make you wonder about the quality of the ingredients going into your family's mouths at dessert? They are probably of extremely inferior quality, but made to taste delicious with lots of flavorings (and don't forget, natural flavorings are allowed by law to be 49% MSG, a potent neurotoxin). Doesn't it make you feel a little creeped out to think that what you're experiencing as "strawberry" or "vanilla bean" is actually just your brain sensing a chemical compound concocted in a laboratory?

I don't usually advocate buying lots of gadgets or consumer goods, but if your family eats a lot of ice cream it is definitely more than worth it to invest $50 in a good ice cream maker and find a local source of raw milk or cream. Ice cream made this way is a dream come true: dessert that's actually good for you!

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