Italians are famous around the world for gelato, delicious Italian ice cream. But there is another sweet frozen treat that Italians have perfected that is quick and easy to make and will quench your thirst on a hot day: granita.
Granita is a semi-frozen liquid made from sugar, juice or water and fresh fruit or flavoring. It is a close cousin to sorbet, although it has a rougher, icier texture that is more granular. Unlike ice cream and sorbet, you can actually feel the ice crystals which form the texture and substance of the dessert drink.
Granita is the perfect dessert to make with your children as it is relatively easy to prepare and doesn’t require any expensive equipment to create this culinary masterpiece. With no preservatives, it is healthier than ice cream and can be made in a relatively short amount of time. The vast majority of flavors are fruit based, but coffee granita is delicious too!
Granita is a traditional Sicilian recipe and was originally served as part of breakfast with fresh crusty bread. Times and tastes change, and the bread has now been replaced with brioche, which is locally called tuppu.
Sorbet contains only two main ingredients: fruit and sugar. There are no dairy products whatsoever, although some people mistakenly think it is a form of ice cream due to the fact that it is regularly churned in an ice cream maker. Sorbet is often used to “cleanse the palate” because it not only has an intense flavor but it is also very refreshing.
Granita, as we already discussed, has three main ingredients: water/juice, sugar and fruit/flavoring. Very similar to sorbet, the main difference being in the texture because granita has a much rougher consistency. When eating a granita, you should be able to feel and savor the individual icy flakes.
Ice cream has very specific regulations it must follow when made in the USA. The regulations state that ice cream must contain 10% milk fat. Ice cream must constantly be churned during the freezing process and also be sweet.
You’ll need just a few items to create this flavorful liquid which is sure to become one of your favorite frozen treats.
Although there are numerous recipes to choose from, the process is generally as follows:
Put the fruit, lime juice and sugar (and salt if you are adding it) into the blender or food processor with a blade attachment.
Blend together until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the puree into the metal pan. Be sure that the layer is not too thin, or it will stick to the bottom of the pan, or too thick, as it will take too long to freeze.
Put in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the freezer, the puree should have started to freeze on the top and around the edges.
Using a fork, gently scrape the mixture, stir and then put it back in the freezer. After another 30 minutes, scrape again, stir and return to the freezer.
Do this every 30 minutes for four hours until the puree is completely frozen and looks dry and flaky like a slushy or snow cone.
If you want to use a topping such as lime or lemon zest or pepper flakes, stir them in a separate small bowl and set aside.
Scoop your crunchy fruit granita into small single-serving bowls or cups and serve. Now is the time to add the toppings for extra goodness!
Try other delicious desserts:
Granita is cheap, easy and fun to make, so you can experiment every time you make it, discovering and creating your own individual specialties. Here are a few flavor ideas and combinations to get you started:
Always bear in mind the various factors that can and will alter the taste of the dessert. For instance, the higher the volume of water that the fruit holds will mean you will need less water or juice. Depending on how sweet the fruit is you will need to put a little more or less sugar.
Enjoy your granita with one of these Italian drinks:
You can serve granita in martini or dessert glasses. It is fun to garnish with a piece of whole fruit, such as strawberries or watermelon wedges, or serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Granita can be stored in the metal container with a cover or wrapped very well with plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 month. If it gets a little too hard, repeat the scraping process a few times before serving.
Yes, you do not need to use an ice cream maker at all, in fact the process is quite different.
You can make it without sugar by using a fruit that is already sweet such as watermelon. You could also consider substituting the sugar with honey if you prefer.
You can make Champagne or Prosecco granita, or you can add alcohol to any of the other granita flavors by adding a few shots of your favorite liquor such as white rum or vodka.