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.
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.
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.
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).
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.