Peach Miso Ice Cream: An Unexpected New England Treat

 One of the interesting things about people who live in New England is they eat ice cream all year around, even during cold winter!

I love making homemade ice cream. The wonderful thing about making your own ice cream is you can be creative and adventurous. For example, I like to challenge the boundary between sweet and savory.

If you’ve ever tasted Miso before, chances are that you’ve probably experienced this flavor within savory dishes. Miso cod, Miso soup, Miso butter noodle…How about Miso ice cream? Have you heard of it? It is very delicious! If you’ve never had  miso ice cream and are concerned that this salty ingredient will not work for a dessert dish, think again. Have you had salty caramel ice cream? Have you had crispy bacon on your donut? Sometimes salty ingredients will make the dessert taste even sweeter and the flavor profile will become so much more sophisticated!

Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae) and sometimes rice, barley, or other ingredients. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan.

In the USA, Shiromiso, “white miso,” and Akamiso, “red miso,” are the most common options that you can find in any Japanese or Asian supermarkets. Akamiso (赤味噌), or red miso, is aged, sometimes for more than one year. Therefore, due to the Maillard reaction, the color changes gradually from white to red or black, thus giving it the name red miso. Characteristics of the flavor are saltiness and some astringency with umami. Compared with red miso, white miso has a very short fermentation time. The taste is sweet, and the umami is soft or light (compared to red miso). 信州 is a region in Japan. They have great reputation for producing high quality miso. I used the White Miso from 信州 to make this ice cream. The texture was smooth and velvety. The flavor is sophisticated. It’s fruity, salty, sweet and some Umami. Another key to making a very smooth ice cream base is to have a high quality blender. I have a Vitamix, and it allowed me to puree my peaches very fine.

For the fruit to use in this ice cream, I recently visited Lookout Farm in Natick, MA. Thanks to the mild weather in fall this year, you can still harvest delicious peaches in local farms in Massachusetts!  

Peach Miso Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup (250ml) whole milk

1/2 cup (100g) sugar

5 large egg yolks

1/3 Cup white miso (such as saikyo, shiro, or shinshu)

1 3/4 cups (430ml) heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large peaches, pitted or cored and cut into chunks.

Instructions:

  1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt 3/4 cup of the sugar, stirring often, until it takes on a nice sandy color and is a smooth liquid, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Quickly add the fruit and stir to coat with the sugar; this will prevent the sugar from caramelizing any further and/or burning. Cook until the fruit is soft, about 10 minutes or so, depending on which fruit you’re using and its ripeness.
  3. Transfer the caramelized fruit to a blender. Add the miso and process to a smooth purée. Set aside.
  4. To make the ice cream custard, heat the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan.
  5. While the milk is warming, make an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually pour some of the warm milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks with milk back into the saucepan.
  7. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool. Add the fruit-miso mixture and stir to mix completely. Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
  8. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Try this recipe and you will be amazed by how delicious the Miso ice cream can be. You can make apple miso ice cream in fall and pear miso ice cream in winter!

How wonderful did my Miso ice cream tasted? I recently did a Facebook Live and had some students sample my Miso ice cream. We paired it with sparkling sake. Check out the link, and see what they said about the ice cream (at the end of the video) !

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