Dear Constant Reader,
It’s starting to cool off a bit, but we had some terribly muggy days this summer. I recommend this delightful Victorian ice recipe to counteract such misery. It’s made with (no surprise from the name) water rather than a cream base. I think it’s more refreshing than ice cream on a really hot & humid day.
From The Book of Ices by Agnes Marshall (1885):
Peach Ice Water
Peel 6 good peaches, and crack the stones, and remove the kernels, which must be pounded; put in a stewpan with 1 pint of water, 4 ounces of sugar, and juice of 1 lemon, cook the fruit for 15 minutes, then tammy, and add a wineglassful of noyeau and 1 glass of orange flower water, a little carmine. Freeze.
I assumed that Victorian peaches were smaller than modern ones and halved the amount. This turned out to make the right amount for my ice cream freezer, so hurrah for me. It was a bit of a challenge to acquire peaches in the first place as the crop in the northeast this year suffered badly from our weird winter and the farmers’ markets have been lacking.
The ground peach kernels are used to give the ice an almond flavor. Rather than playing games with cyanide (this small an amount is probably safe, but still…), I used a splash of almond extract instead.
I know the picture shows a fake plastic lemon, but that’s because I took it after the fact and I had used my stock of fresh lemons. Someday I’ll remember to take the ingredient picture first.
A tammy is a fine hair sieve that you would rub the cooked peaches through. Because I don’t have servants, I used an immersion blender and resigned myself to a less than perfectly silky smooth puree.
My research showed that a Victorian wineglass measure was about 2 fluid ounces. Noyeau is a almond-flavored liqueur; I used amaretto. Orange flower water, like its cousin rose water, is very potent. I recommend using very little.
Carmine is a red food coloring made from cochineal, an insect. I actually have some cochineal in its raw form, but that seemed excessively authentic. I considered adding a little red food coloring, but I was out (blue and green coloring, yes, but no red or yellow. Why?). Besides, the puree had a lovely peachy color in its natural state.
If you don’t have an ice cream freezer, there are ways to fake one. Or you can treat this like a granita and freeze for a couple of hours in a shallow pan, stirring every half hour to break up the ice crystals.
Peach Ice Water
1 lb. peaches
2 cups water
1/2 heaping cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup amaretto
1 teaspoon orange flower water
A few drops of red food coloring (optional)
To peel the peaches, dunk them into boiling water for a few seconds and then into ice water. The skins will come right off. Halve the peaches and take out the pits.
Cook the peaches with the water, sugar, and lemon juice for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree.
Add almond extract, amaretto, and orange flower water. Let cool completely.
Pour into ice cream freezer and follow the instructions.