Americans, such as myself, have long enjoyed ‘snow cones’ during the hot summers of childhood. ‘Slushees’ have also been a fun frozen treat. And in Hawaii, the locals love ‘shaved ice’.
I guess it comes as no surprise, that Italians have their own unique-textured, flavored fruity ice treats.
If you’re going to Italy, put this on your must-try list. And make sure that you try a few along the nail-biting cliffs of Amalfi, where the freshest of citrus ingredients infuse the ice! Where you can find a sharp turn with a ‘look-out’ place to stop, there is usually a local person selling granita along with other fresh fruits and vegetables.
Lemon is the most popular of all Italian ices and what I loved when I visited Amalfi. When it’s boiling outside on a hot summer’s day, there are few frozen treats that can top the tangy and revitalizing taste of lemon.
Granita is an Italian frozen ice mixture made from fruit, fruit juices, purées, sugar, and possibly other additional natural flavors. It is neither an American snow cone or an Hawaiian shaved ice where the ice crystals have flavored syrups poured on top; the fruit or puree/juice are added before freezing and are part of the process of producing the granita. It’s related to sorbet, but is uniquely distinct by its coarse, crystalline texture and contains no egg or dairy ingredients.
You can find granita all over Italy, but how it is prepared, and thus its texture, varies from city to city. In some places, such as Palermo, the granita has a coarse texture versus the smooth sorbet-like granita served in other places. The coarser versions are frozen first, as I do in my kitchen, and then scraped. Scraping causes the ice crystals to separate whereas the smoother version is made in a gelato machine.
Common and traditional flavoring ingredients include freshly-squeezed lemon juice, oranges, cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries and mulberries, watermelon, coffee, almonds, and mint. Coffee-flavor infused granita can be found in Messina, and you can even find some fantastic chocolate granite in Catania.
As you can see in the photo below from my trip to the Amalfi Coast, it is served simply in a small plastic or paper cup with a tiny spoon.
If nothing else, the brilliant rose-pink-red color of a fresh watermelon is so PRETTY!
Fill the entire blender with chunks of watermelon (above photo).
squeeze a little bit (not a lot) of one lime wedge into the blender
the next day, using a fork, scrape all of the granita (above photo)
- ⅓ to ½ fresh watermelon, rind removed, sliced, and cut into cubes
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 slice of lime, squeezed
- Place all ingredients in a blender.
- Give everything a whirl for about 30 – 60 seconds.
- Pour mixture into a baking pan.
- Lay flat inside a freezer and freeze overnight.
- Next day, take a fork and scrape the entire frozen mixture.
- Place the granita in small pretty cups or pretty glassware