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When life gives you lemons (or peaches!), . . . go to Graeter’s!

It is fresh peach season in Ohio now, and I absolutely LOVE fresh peaches! I can never get enough. About 2 week ago, I bought a half-peck of Red Haven peaches from an orchard in Mount Vernon, OH.  As it turned out, the peaches all ripened at the same time, leaving me with more peaches than I could eat all at once. I also happened to have some heavy cream in the fridge that I needed to find a use for before it expired. So I decided to make my own peach ice cream.

I started with a recipe from the owner’s manual of my ice cream maker. It called for just 1/4 tsp. of almond extract, which didn’t seem like a lot, so I followed the recipe exactly. [I always tell my students that you must follow a recipe exactly the first time you make it so you know how the recipe is intended to taste. After that, you can make any adjustments you feel necessary.]

As I proceeded to make the ice cream, though, I began having problems with EVERYTHING I did. First, the electric motor stopped working almost as soon as I turned the ice cream maker on. “No problem,” I thought, “I have ‘child labor’!” I can make my children crank it by hand! So I called the kids into the kitchen and attached the manual hand crank.  But then we discovered that the dasher was stripped and couldn’t turn with ANY kind of crank. Ugh! “No problem,” I thought, we will simply make gelato instead! The main difference between ice cream and gelato is that ice cream is churned more to incorporate more air. Gelato is denser because it is only stirred, not churned.

So I took the ice cream maker and headed to the freezer to allow the base mixture to freeze without churning.  Unfortunately, the base mixture was still very liquid at this point.  And unfortunately, I accidentally tripped on my way to the freezer, spilling half the contents of the ice cream mixer ALL OVER the inside of the freezer, as well as WAY under the fridge.  UGH!  AND it was time to get my kids in the bath before bedtime.  AND my husband had just left for a meeting, so I had no back-up help.  What a disaster!!

Thankfully, my kids saw how frustrated I was, and they sprang into action.  My 8-year-old son helped my 5-year-old son shower, and they were both so proud of getting ready for bed completely by themselves while I did my best to clean up the kitchen.  (I saved the under-the-fridge mess for my husband since I was unable to move it!)  Phew!

Finally, when the peach ice cream/gelato was nearly frozen, I sampled it, and I discovered that the peach flavor was over-powered by the flavor of the almond extract.  I know from my teaching experience that cold temperatures tend to diminish flavors.  So when making ice cream or other frozen desserts, you should OVER-flavor the base mixture to be sure it tastes strong enough once frozen.  The almond extract tasted plenty strong enough.  It was the peach flavor that diminished.  I attempted to correct the problem by adding some diced peaches to the ice cream mixture (which only called for pureed peaches in the original recipe).  I know that I like strawberry ice cream when it has whole chunks of real strawberries in it, so I thought the same principle would apply to my peach ice cream.  WRONG.  I did not like the texture of the frozen peaches in the ice cream at all, and the flavor of the frozen peaches was–guess what?–Diminished!  It did nothing to help enhance the peach flavor in the ice cream.

The only good thing that came out of this frustrating experience is that I learned a few important things (and I always say that every mistake is a learning opportunity!):

1) I do not like the combination of peaches and almond extract.  Although I like almond extract in most everything else, it does not seem to pair well with peaches because the almond flavor is too over-powering (I have tried this in other peach desserts, as well, and did not like it).

2) Do not put diced peaches in peach ice cream.  Stick with the peach puree in the base mixture, and use plenty of it (even more than a recipe calls for, perhaps) because the peach flavor will be diminished once the ice cream mixture freezes.

3) When everything is going horribly wrong, go to Graeter’s for their seasonal peach ice cream.  It is out of this world, and so much easier than attempting to make homemade ice cream yourself!!

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