Granita is one of those frozen treats that’s handy to have in the freezer, especially during the dog days of summer. I just got back from a walk in the park on this fine July day, which means I was in need of a quick cool-down. Thankfully, I still had some of this Watermelon Lime Granita in the freezer and it did the trick quite nicely.
By definition, granita is a frozen dessert made from fruit, water and sweetener. As it freezes, you periodically scrape and flake it with a fork so that, when it’s ready, you have icy, fruity shavings that can serve as a palate cleanser between the courses of a meal or a refreshing, cooling dessert on a hot day.
This all started a few days ago when I made a batch of watermelon popsicles with one of my granddaughters. We were having fun and I got carried away, and turned half of a medium seedless watermelon into juice, yielding about six cups of brilliant pink liquid. Little Miss and I added some lime juice and then filled the popsicle molds. I was left with just over 4 cups of watermelon juice. What to do?
Fortunately, I was thinking on my feet and decided to make a Watermelon Lime Granita that has a zestier profile and restrained sweetness, more suited to adult palates. I added more lime juice in increments, as well as some honey for natural sweetness and to balance the impact of all that lime. I’ve presented my recipe below, but this is one that you can (and should) adjust to suit your tastes.
Ideally, I should have poured the concoction into a 9 x 13-inch dish for freezing, but I’m having some capacity issues with my freezer at the moment. (That’s a fancy way of saying I’m overdue to clean it out.) Ideally, the liquid shouldn’t be more than about a half inch deep in the pan, to facilitate quick freezing and effective scraping into flaky, flavourful crystals. Since I used a smaller pan, the liquid was considerably deeper, and stayed slushier longer. It took longer to finish but hey, it’s worth it!
It would be lovely presented as a palate cleanser between courses, whether at a fancy-schmancy dinner party or something far more casual. In the summer, I think it’s just the thing for your next barbecue. Wouldn’t this do the trick between the main course — say, ribs, corn on the cob and potato salad — and a nice green salad? Or, just scoop a mound of it into a bowl and then eat it on the steps of the back veranda while the sprinkler lazily waters the grass or the fireflies illuminate the back yard. Quickly, before it melts!
Watermelon Lime Granita
© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life.com 2017
This recipe makes a really big batch of granita, great for when it’s hot out and you want a cold treat on hand over the course of a week. Sorry, but I forgot to weigh the watermelon that I used. But really, once you’ve juiced the melon, you can just play it by taste with the rest of the ingredients. I kept the sweetness low here on purpose; if you prefer yours sweeter, just increase the amount of honey (but in increments — once you add it in, you can’t take it out!)
- 4 cups watermelon juice (about 1/3 of a medium watermelon)
- zest of one lime
- juice of 1 1/2 fat and generous limes
- 2 tbsp honey
Start by zesting one lime; set the zest aside. Cut the watermelon flesh into chunks and place into a blender. Add the juice of 1 lime and the honey. Whizz up until the watermelon has liquidized. Taste and decide if more lime juice is needed. Add it and the lime zest and give it another quick whizz.
Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch freezer safe container and put the lid on or cover with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer. After about 45 minutes, use a fork to pull any frozen juice toward the middle. Freeze again for 30 minutes or so, then scrape it with the tines of a fork, making flakes of flavoured ice. Repeat until the liquid has totally frozen and been scraped into almost dry, fluffy-looking flakes.
You can keep this in the freezer for about a week. Just fluff it up more with a fork before serving.