How to make fruit granita

Need an icy refresher for summer? Lisa Featherby shows how to make this fruity dessert, step by step.
GranitaWill Horner

Granita is one of those wonderfully simple summer desserts that doesn’t require much fuss – most of the work is done in the freezer. It can be made from almost any liquid – such as coffee, nut milks or juices – simply by adding a little sugar and water. The liquid is frozen before being scraped into tiny ice particles with a fork to form the granita, which can then be served on its own or as part of a dessert.

For a fruit granita, the texture of the fruit purée will give you varied results, and the natural sweeteners, or fructose, in the fruit can affect freezing. To get started, choose a fruit that will yield a good amount of juice. Sugar and water are added to balance the flavour or lengthen the liquid. Some people like to scrape the mixture every few hours for ease, but there is little difference between doing this throughout the process or at the end. You can also freeze the mixture into pieces that can be grated or microplaned over a dessert.

A note on sugar:

Natural sugars in fruits mean that each fruit requires a different amount of added sweetness. Highly acidic juice, such as lemon or lime, will need a decent amount of sugar, while a sweeter fruit, like pineapple, won’t need as much.

Sugar loses its sweetness when frozen, so make sure to taste the mixture before freezing, keeping in mind that it will be duller when finished. That said, too much sugar will create a soft granita that seeps syrup, so add sugar in small quantities, tasting as you go. Fruits that are high in fructose, such as mangoes, work better as sorbet rather than granita.

Fruits that can be juiced (citrus, passionfruit) or which make a thin purée (melons, plums) are preferable to fruits that produce a thick nectar (stone fruit, bananas). Cucumber juice makes a refreshing granita and that requires very little sugar.

How to make granita, step by step

1 First, prepare your fruit juice. If using a solid fruit, purée it in a food processor or blender first, then strain, or alternatively, put fruit through a juicer. For watermelon granita, 1kg fruit will make 6 serves of granita. To make a citrus granita, simply juice the fruit; for lemon granita, 300ml juice will make 6 serves of granita.

Step 1.

2 Next, add sweetness with a basic sugar syrup. The sugar-to-water ratio will depend on the sweetness and consistency of your juice.

For watermelon granita, combine 100gm caster sugar and 150ml water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar, then set aside to cool.

For lemon granita, you’ll need quite a lot of sugar to balance the acid and a fair amount of water to slightly dilute the strong flavour-to-liquid ratio. Combine 150gm caster sugar and 400ml water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside to cool.

Step 2.

3 Once syrup is cool, add it to fruit juice, then pour the mixture into 1-2 shallow pans and place in the freezer until mixture is frozen (overnight).

Step 3.

4 A few hours before serving, scrape the frozen liquid in the pan with a fork into ice crystals, then return to freezer until ready to serve. Granita can be made a few days ahead and simply re-scraped when ready to serve.

Step 4.

Flavour combinations:

*Grapefruit granita works really well served with panna cotta.

  • Pair your fruit juice with herbs or spices for extra flavour – try lemongrass and makrut lime leaves infused into a pineapple granita.

  • Combine shiso and cucumber for a modern twist, or add peppercorn or chilli to a lemon or lime granita for a more savoury finish to serve with ceviche or oysters.

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