Ice cream has been my favorite food for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I literally ate it almost every day. Whether it was gnawing on a Klondike bar while watching Nick at Nite or going to the nearby ice cream stand after Girl Scout troop meetings, I always had a frozen treat nearby. It was truly a wonderful time.
Anyway, this is why I took it as a good omen when, the first time I visited my husband’s family down in Georgia, his dad insisted on making me fresh peach ice cream.
Peaches, are, of course, symbolic of the State of Georgia (even though more peaches are grown in South Carolina—fascinating, right?), and he wanted to give me a taste of Georgia on my first visit.
Obviously, I was thrilled. We never made our own ice cream growing up (Why would we? Hershey’s Gold Medal Ribbon would clearly be superior anyway), and so this was a way for me to get hands-on with something I loved, all while connecting with my future father-in-law.
But, there was a hiccup: we needed one more ingredient for our peach ice cream, and we had to go to a very specific store out in the county to get it. Tim had a strange twinkle in his eye as he shared a glance with my husband as we set off.
I wasn’t…scared, but I was slightly worried. I still felt like an outsider when it came to Southern culture, and as we drove further and further into the country, away from Atlanta and through tiny, one-gas-pump farm towns, I found myself thinking what have I gotten myself into?
Eventually, we stopped at a small, decades-old general store, complete with a group of elderly men sitting outside in creaky rockers. Inside, the space was wide open, the linoleum was dusty, and there were pallets covered with piles of fruits and vegetables from local farmers arranged in make-shift aisles.
My father-in-law spotted an older gentleman coming from the back of the store and waved him over. They were clearly in cahoots.
My father-in-law asked, “Got any peaches?” with a wry smile on his face.
The man responded with an equally conspiratorial smile, “Sure do. Just follow me.” They disappeared to a back area of the dim store.
I looked around. There was a pallet overflowing with fresh peaches about three feet away. I exchanged a glance with my partner and he said, “Just wait.”
My future father-in-law and the man reemerged a few minutes later, grinning like a couple of seventh graders who’d gotten away with a prank. My husband’s dad was carrying an open-topped cardboard box, full of sealed mason jars with some sort of clear liquid sloshing around inside.
“What’s in there?” I asked.
“Just a little piece of heaven,” he answered, as we climbed back into the car.
And, it was. Once we got back and the jars were unsealed, I was invited to give the contents a whiff. The smell of peaches and a very strong alcohol stung my nose.
It was moonshine. Peach moonshine. And it was so good: sweet and cold and strong.
It was finally time to make the ice cream. We sipped on the shine as we made it, following Ben and Jerry’s peach ice cream recipe, right from their cookbook.
It was simple, and fun, and ended in a delicious bowl of rich, creamy, peachy ice cream, topped with just a splash of that glorious peach moonshine and a sprig of fresh mint.
That must have been almost ten years ago, but I still get a hankering for homemade peach ice cream every summer, and we still sip on ice-cold peach moonshine whenever we visit my in-laws.
Here’s how you can make your own peach ice cream memories. All you need is a few ingredients, some fresh peaches, an ice cream maker (I love my Cuisinart ice cream maker—we spend a lot of hours together in the summer), and a little bit of time.
Even though this recipe is super simple, I have a few quick tips:
- The fattier the milk you use, the creamier your ice cream will be. I tend to always have whole milk on hand, so that’s what I use when I make this recipe. 2% and skim will also do okay, but your ice cream won’t have the same buttery texture.
- Make sure to freeze your ice cream mixing bowl ahead of time. There’s been a number of times I have gone to make ice cream and realized my ice cream maker was still room temp. This has led to literal meltdowns in my house before (pun intended).
- Use smaller peaches. They have less water and more concentrated flavor than larger ones. And you want as much of that peach-tastic flavor as you can get.
Homemade Peach Ice Cream Recipe
2 c. Ripe peaches finely chopped
1 ¼ c. Sugar
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 Large Eggs
2 c. Heavy or whipping cream
1 c. Milk
- Combine the peaches, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the lemon juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring the mixture every 30 minutes.
- Remove the peaches from the refrigerator and drain the juice into another bowl. Return the peaches to the refrigerator.
- Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1−2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.
- Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the peach juice and blend.
- Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer’s instructions.
- After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done) add the peaches, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready. Makes 1 generous quart.
- To serve, drizzle with peach moonshine if you can get it. If not, try a peach liqueur or some chopped pecans.