Italians are famous the world over for their beautiful, creamy ice-cream, and yet there is another substance that the Italians have perfected, that could quite possibly be the perfect thirst quencher known to man.
If you fancy something a little more adventurous, dare I say a little more original, and something that is quick and easy to make, then Granita could be the answer to your prayers.
What is Granita?
Granita is a semi-frozen liquid made from sugar, water, and ice with various flavorings added. It is a close cousin to sorbet, although it has a rougher texture, with some books describing it as having a granular type texture. Unlike Ice-cream and sorbet, you can actually feel the ice crystals which form the texture and substance of the dessert. Granita is the perfect dessert to make with your children as it is relatively easy to prepare and doesn’t require any expensive machinery to create this culinary masterpiece.
With no preservatives, granita is perhaps healthier than ice-cream and can be made in a relatively short space of time. Granita can be both sweet and savory, the vast majority of flavors are fruit based, but coffee granita is delicious for those people without a sweet tooth.
How To Make Granita
Although there are numerous recipes to choose from the process is generally as follows:
Use about four cups of frozen fruit, which is about 1 and a half pounds of frozen fruit in weight terms. Choose a liquid of your choice, lemon and lime is an excellent choice as the bitterness can help to balance out the sweetness of the fruit. You will also need about a ¼ cup full of sugar, although this will vary depending on how sweet you like your desserts, and of course the sweetness of your other ingredients. You can also add a little salt, or if you are feeling adventurous a spice of your choice.
1. First Transform The Fruit Into A Pulp
– Using a food processor or blender add the fruit, the juice, and the sugar to the machine and start the blending process. The final consistency should turn out to be something similar to a smoothie. If you let the mixture get too dry, then don’t be afraid to add a few teaspoonful’s of water.
2. Freeze The Fruit In A Shallow Metal Pan
– A metal baking pan is the best container to use for this part of the process, as the metal quickly becomes cold and assists with the process. After about 45 minutes or once you notice that the top and sides of the liquid are starting to freeze drag a fork across the top of the liquid breaking the frozen parts into small crystals. This process is normally quite enjoyable and could even be described as therapeutic!
3. Time To Go Back To The Freezer
– The entire process is now nearly complete, all that is required is to place the tin back in the freezer for a few more hours before serving.
What Are The Key Differences Between Granita, Ice-Cream, and Sorbet?
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 a very revitalizing food, which is often used to clean the palate because it not only has an intense flavor, but it is also very refreshing.
Granita – As we already discussed Granita has three main ingredients, water, sugar, and fruit. Very similar to sorbet, the main differences are in the texture, with a good quality granita having a much rougher consistency; the person eating the granita should be able to feel and savor the individual icy flakes.
Ice-Cream – There are specific legal regulations in place within the USA which states that any ice-cream product must contain 10% milk fat. Ice-cream must constantly be churned during the freezing process and also be sweet. There is no such thing as a savory ice-cream!
What is the history of Granita?
Granita is a Sicilian tradition 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.
The popularity of granita means that it is now regularly eaten at all times of the day, but it is particularly pleasant during a hot summers day, or perhaps after a romantic evening stroll.
The desert evolved from sherbet, and it is believed to have been introduced to Sicily during the Arab domination, so its origins are likely to be from the Arab countries. The popularity of granita continues to grow although it is now known under different names around the world. The Spaniards, for instance, call it ‘granizado,’ while in the United States of America it is more commonly referred to as a ‘Snow Cone.’
The Different Varieties of Granita
Although we described the principles and methods of how to make granita above, there is a great deal of skill and knowledge required to make the perfect dessert. There are virtually unlimited combinations that can be used to create the perfect taste, the secret, and indeed the skill is to understand and comprehend the subtleties and characteristics of the different ingredients. This will then enable you to blend together the tastes that complement each other and are more suited to your palate. With so many options to choose from it can be a little bewildering, so here are a few combinations to get you started.
- Strawberry and Mascarpone
- Watermelon, Lime, and Mint
That is the beauty of granita; you are literally spoilt for choice. 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 determine the quantity of water and sugar that needs to be added.
Granita is cheap, easy and fun to make; you can experiment time and time again, discovering and creating your own individual specialties. It can be as healthy or naughty as you wish because you are in total control, so if you fancy adding a little fresh cream to the mix, then go ahead, but if you want it to be as healthy as possible, then select your ingredients carefully. There are literally thousands of recipes in the world today, and the popularity of granita shows no sign of slowing down. We have posted on of our favorite recipes below to get your taste buds flowing.
- 4 cups cubed fruit
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 tbsp salt optional
Using the measuring cups, put the required amount of fruit, lime juice, and sugar in the blender or food processor with a blade attachment. Blend these until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the purée into the metal pan. Ensure that the layer is not too thin as to stick to the floor of the pan or too thick as this would take longer.
Freeze for 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the freezer at a point when the puree has started to freeze on the top and around the edges.
Scrape using the fork and return to freezer. After another 30 minutes, scrape again and return. Do this every 30 minutes for four hours until the puree is wholly frozen and looks dry and flaky. In case you have a topping such as lime zest and pepper flakes, stir them in a bowl and set aside
- Now you can scoop your crunchy, melty granita in a bowl and serve to your six friends. Add the topping you set aside for extra goodness!
Equipment you need
Measuring cupsSpoon and fork
9x13-inch shallow metallic pan