As summer enters its final weeks, one thing gives me comfort: peaches are in full effect in New England. With all the jam and rustic tarts we’re churning out at the restaurant where I work, things are just peachy. For the most part. That is, unless you are trying to surgically remove fruit flesh from clingstone rather than freestone peaches. That, my friends, is seriously the pits!
And you know what else is the pits? Having to lob all of those pits in the trash can after slicing away the juicy and choice parts. But take heart! A recent recipe from Food52 offers an ingenious solution to this problem of wasting the core of all that fruit. Now, you can put all those pits aside and use your pent- up frustration (as well as a meat mallet or hammer) to gleefully crush them. All this pounding will liberate the kernels inside. (If you are feeling demure, a nutcracker is always an option.) These kernels will get simmered with milk and heavy cream twice to remove their bitterness, and then strained out before the custard-style ice cream is spun in your ice cream maker. The beauty is that your choice of drupe (peaches, apricots, nectarines, or plums) will work just as well to yield an ice cream with a perfumy, slightly bitter, almond-like essence. You see, all of these fruits belong to the same genus as almonds, so they yield a similar flavor profile. It’s also why these fruits pair so well with almond cake and other almond-flavored desserts, and why you don’t want to eat those kernels raw: Just like their almond-counterparts, the stones contain trace amounts of cyanide, so handle carefully. That is, unless you want a bellyache. Or worse (gulp).
Because you’ll need 45 to 50 pits for a one-quart yield of ice cream, it’s best to pair this with a jam-making project, i.e. when you plan on going through a bushel of fruit in record time. Alternatively, Food52 suggests saving up your pits one-by-one and keeping them in the freezer for that rainy day that requires an ice cream pick-me-up. Because any day gets better with the addition of ice cream!
Feature Photo Credit: “Many peaches in wooden crate and basket with antique panel background” by Jenn Huls | Shutterstock