A few weeks ago we got a peek into the food styling of The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook, and a tantalizing glimpse at some of the luscious buttermilk produced on the farm. The next step, naturally, was to try one of the recipes. I’d say Heidi’s ice cream is a smashing success, so join me in running out to snag the last sticky carton of summer peaches! -Amy
I truly appreciate simple gestures. Gifts need not be wrapped, or expensive, or fabulous in the ways that the mainstream may define them. I believe that the best gifts are of somebody’s time or something crafted by hand. And after my daylong visit with Diane St. Clair of Animal Farm Dairy, I left with both.
I traveled up to Orwell Vermont to cover a story for Spenser Magazine on Diane and her lovely herd of Jerseys in prep for the release of her cookbook, The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook. I am particularly charmed by farm life and my day spent with Diane left me fairly enamored by what she has carved out for herself. Diane makes by hand, daily, the butter that graces the tables of some of the finest restaurants in the country. She makes butter the way that butter used to be made before big commercial dairies and chain grocery stores. I watched the process from beginning to end – from the milking of her small herd to the butter churn.
An amazing by-product of butter making is buttermilk and hers is as special as everything else that she does. Thick and creamy and with the perfect amount of tang, I drank it right out of the glass fresh off the butter in her creamery. You can find her buttermilk in some specialty grocers in the northeast. (Her butter is not readily available for purchase unless you happen to be Chef Thomas Keller or Chef Barbara Lynch.) So when Diane sent me packing with her scones, buttermilk, and some of her butter, I pretty much felt like I had hit the food lottery with my bag full of treasure. The scones were gone by the time I drove 30 miles south, the coveted butter was popped right into my freezer upon arriving home four hours later, and the buttermilk – it inspired my first round of homemade ice cream.
The addition of the buttermilk gives the ice cream a texture and flavor somewhere between an ice cream and a sherbet. I followed Diane’s Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream recipe from her book and though I have not been a huge fan of peaches thus far, this recipe created a change of heart – the flavors were perfection. The recipe is a breeze. With minimal effort, within an afternoon, I made some of the best ice cream I’ve had in quite a while.
Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream
- 8 small ripe peaches [2 – 2 ½ lbs]
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
* Diane suggests using real vanilla and almond extracts
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, dunk the peaches in the boiling water until the skins split.
- Drop the peaches in a bowl of ice water and slip off the skins. Discard the pits, chop the flesh, and put in a food processor or a blender.
- Add 1 cup of the buttermilk and pulse until mostly smooth, with only a few chunks of peach remaining.
- Transfer the pureed peaches to a large bowl and add the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk, the sugar, the lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours, until very cold.
- Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Press plastic wrap on the surface of any leftover ice cream and it will stay fresh in the freezer for one week.
Notes from Heidi:
- After tasting the difference between cultured buttermilk and buttermilk you may find at a grocery store chain, I strongly believe that not all buttermilks are created equal. Most local grocers carry a cultured buttermilk product and the extra effort will make a difference in the taste of your final product.
- I’m a stickler for buying organic, and the peaches that I found were not quite ripe. I left them on my counter in a paper bag for a little over a day and they ripened gorgeously. You’ll know that your peaches are ripe when they smell strongly of peach and are slightly soft to the touch. Initially I thought that my peaches hadn’t ripened, as the flesh didn’t pull away from the pit when I was cutting into them. I then learned that there are two types of peaches – “cling” and “freestone” and the difference is exactly as it sounds. The “cling” will have flesh that clings to the pit and the “freestone” releases. Clings are great for eating and the freestones are better for cooking.
- I was able to find white pint size to-go containers easily online, and instead of using Diane’s suggestion of plastic wrap, I used a square of parchment paper right up against the filled containers and they froze beautifully.
Photos taken and styled by Heidi/White Loft Studio.
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