I love granita. Since I moved to Sicily in 2012 I have been sampling as many different types and flavors as I can find. In the summertime granita can be found everywhere. We eat it morning, noon, and night. Not only does it keep you cool, it’s a delight to the senses.
The simplest recipes for granita include shaved ice and some type of flavoring – lemon juice, coffee, fresh berry juice.
According to the locals, during the winter the snows from Mount Etna were piled into caves on the mountain. The snows were formed into ice blocks and stored until summer when they could be used for the local markets to keep produce cool. It was here that granita was born – lemon was reportedly the first flavor.
Today, we’re trying a watermelon vodka granita for a block party. The fruit is in season it tastes great on a summer day.
The watermelon, in general is not terribly sweet, so we added a little sugar. The vodka keeps things from freezing completely. This way the granita remains light and airy as it gets shaved while it sets.
Traditionally, here in Sicily, granita is enjoyed with a warm brioche on a summer morning. But the truth of the matter is that anytime you eat granita is the best time to eat granita.
Here’s the recipe:
1 watermelon (or equivalent to render 4 cups of juice)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
Vodka to taste (~1/2 cup +/-)
Juice of 1 lime
Start by cutting the watermelon to remove the pulp. If you have a tomato skinner (see photo) or an immersion blender, the idea is to juice the pulp without including the seeds. If need be, you can use a strainer to gain a smoother consistency. Do not use an immersion blender to grind the seeds, this would add a bitter flavor to the juice.
Once the pulp is juiced, add the water and sugar and lime juice, and blend well. Add vodka (~1/2 cup or less/more) and blend well.
Combine the mixture in a flat container which fits in your freezer. Once the juice begins to freeze (~20 minutes), begin scraping the liquid with a fork every 10 minutes or so. This will prevent the mixture from freezing into a single block. The granita – a light and fluffy ‘shaved ice’ will begin forming.
Once all the mixture has frozen, you can collect the total quantity into a smaller container for storage.
Serve the granita in small cups with a mint leaf for garnish and extra flavor.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.