The Carolina Housewife (1847) includes a recipe for “Matrimony,” calling for two dozen common-sized peaches, sugar, and a quart of cream “or a very rich custard.” Peaches have grown in size since then, but I wonder if we will ever know how the old cultivars tasted. My peach ice cream marries the custard and some cream and calls for the almondlike kernels from within the peach pits. The real magic of the recipe is in letting the peaches sit overnight to become very sugary, so ice crystals do not form in the ice cream. The recipe is best begun the day before.
In the bottom of a double boiler, bring several inches of water to a boil. Drop the peaches in for a few seconds, remove them, peel them, and stone them, reserving the pits. Leave the water to simmer.
Place the peach pulp in a bowl, crushing it with your hands so that there are no large clumps, but do not puree it.
Remove the kernels from the pits by tapping them with a hammer one at a time. I put the pits in a towel or a paper grocery bag before I strike them so that pieces of the pits do not fly up in my face.
Chop the kernels finely (a nut mill or a food processor can do this easily for you) and add them to the peach pulp along with the lemon or lime juice and
Place the milk on the stove to scald, but do not let it boil. In the top of a double boiler, off the heat, or in a wide stainless-steel bowl that will fit snugly on top of the hot water bath, begin whisking the egg yolks and the remaining ¾ cup of sugar together. Continue until the eggs and sugar are well mixed and lightly colored, then, a little at a time, strain the scalded milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly.
Place the mixture above the hot water bath and cook until the custard thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 20 minutes), stirring all the while. Remove the custard from the heat and chill thoroughly.
The next day, or when all of the ingredients are well chilled, mix all of the ingredients together and freeze them in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I use a hand-cranked model with 3 parts ice to 1 part salt. When the ice cream is softly frozen, remove the dasher, stir the ice cream all together once, then pack it in 4 parts ice and 1 part salt for another 2 hours to ripen before eating.
© 1992 All rights reserved. Published by UNC Press.