How to Make Granita Out of Anything

No slushie machine needed just grab a fork, a serving dish and pop open your freezer.

July 07, 2022

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Photo by: saschanti/Getty

saschanti/Getty

I spent the first few weeks of June abroad for the first time in Paris, and while the city was breathtaking, it was also hot. Dotted along the cobblestone streets, several shops displayed their glorious granita machines. Like our more commonly known slushie machines, these bad boys were spinning with delightful fruity flavors. When I was looking to beat the heat, nothing came to my rescue quite like a large serving of granita (white wine was a close second).

I’m no longer in the throes of the European heat (which is fine, they don’t have proper air conditioning), but I am now facing off against the blaze of a New York City summer. While I may not have a high-powered slushie making machine, granita is actually one of the simplest treats you can make at home. If you’re pining for Europe like I am, and just need another way to beat the heat, here’s how to make a granita in your very own kitchen.

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Choose Your Flavors

Most times, I think of granita as a fruity dessert, but in reality, you can make this icy treat out of almost anything, like coffee or herbs. If you want to have a little more fun with your granita, you can even throw some wine or beer in there. The flavors you choose determine the way you’re going to approach these next steps.

If you’re making a coffee or an alcoholic granita, you won’t need to do much prep work besides brewing up a strong pot or opening a bottle. However, if you’re making a fruity or herby granita, you’re going to need to turn those solids into a liquid.

For fruit, you may want to blend or juice if they’re heftier, like melon, or you can heat them in a small pot over medium-low heat with some sugar and water until the fruit has burst and released its flavors. If you’re using something like basil or tarragon, transfuse a somewhat neutral but flavorful liquid like apple juice or white wine with your herb of choice, then add sugar in a small pot on low heat and blend it all up.

Sweeten It Up

You need sugar to make a sweet and refreshing granita, especially if you’re using something more bitter like beer or espresso. It’s important to dissolve your sweetener. Sugar does not completely dissolve in cold water, and may leave you with some sugar granules throughout your icy treat. If you’ve already cooked the fruit or herbs into a sweetened liquid you can skip this step.

The easiest way to fully incorporate your sugar is to make a simple syrup out of equal parts sugar and water. I’d recommend about a 1/2-cup each per two pounds of fruit, but you should adjust for taste based on how sweet your fruit is. For coffee or wine, use about a 1/4-cup for every cup of liquid to really let those more bitter notes shine through.

To make a simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and then stir until the sugar has just dissolved fully, making it much easier to integrate into the rest of your granita-slush mix. Then add this to your blended or juiced fruit and mix until well combined.

If you’re using a beverage as your granita base, you can dissolve the sugar in some of that liquid, instead of water, in a pot over low heat. Then, add it to the rest of your granita base and voila, you’re just about ready to head to the freezer.

Add More Flavor

This step is completely optional, but now is the time for you to give your granita an extra kick or a bit of a twist. If you’re making a fruity granita but want it to get boozy, add your wine or liquor at this point. This is so you don’t cook out any of the alcohol over heat.

Additionally, this is a good time to give your granita an extra acidic punch if you would like (acid doesn’t usually take well to heat). A squeeze of lemon or lime juice is perfect for something more heavy-bodied like pomegranate, or it’s great if you just want to add a tangy, lip-puckering kick to any fruit flavor.

You can also add a mix-in like coconut milk to give your frozen treat a slightly creamier texture, like in this color-changing pea flower granita!

No matter what route you go, this is the time to really experiment in the kitchen to make your granita totally unique.

Strain and Freeze

Once you have your intensely flavorful liquid, strain out any solids in your granita base through a fine-mesh sieve. Avoid pressing on the solids – you want to have as homogenous a liquid as possible. Pressing can result in stray seeds or solids in your granita. If you don’t want to dirty a dish, you can strain the mixture directly into the vessel you’ll be using in the freezer.

To freeze your granita liquid properly, grab a freezer-safe dish that has a lot of surface area but high sides to trap the liquid in a thin layer, like a 9-by-13-inch cake pan or large casserole dish – bearing in mind that this will have to fit in your freezer for a few hours. Simply pour the granita base into your dish of choice, and then pop it into the freezer for four to eight hours.

Food Network Kitchen’s Rose Granita.

Food Network Kitchen’s Rose Granita.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Rake and Serve

The key to a great granita is raking. Every 30 minutes to an hour, take your granita out of the freezer and use a fork to rake up the ice crystals.

The first time you slowly drag your fork through the barely frozen granita, you’re preventing it from becoming one giant frozen mass. Each subsequent scraping is used to break up those larger shards and leave you with snow-like ice that retains a little bit of crunch before melting across your tongue. The more frequently you rake your granita, the finer your ice crystals. This process mimics the constant churning and scraping of a slushie machine.

Thirty minutes before serving, give your granita one last rake to break up any of those larger ice crystals. Granita can be served on its own in a cup or even inside a piece of fruit! If you want to add one final hit of flavor, you can try topping it with some herbs or spices, like in this mango-chile granita.

You can also try serving granita with cream to complement the crunchy shards. It’s popular to serve espresso granita with lightly whipped cream. I had a sorrel granita with fresh strawberries and cream that was refreshingly cool and perfectly icy yet so, so velvety.

No matter how you choose to enjoy granita, I’m sure it’ll become your new summer favorite. You might love it so much you’ll be making it all year round, well into the holidays.

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