If you haven’t noticed, it’s hot, hot enough to think you are walking around the med and hot enough for everyone to think that this may be the year that England really might win the World Cup.
So, staying in the kitchen may be the very thing you’re avoiding. We completely get it. Cooking over a hot stove or near a baking oven might be the very thing you want to avoid. But what about using your freezer to make what would be a summer time hit in every family, granita.
The granita is an ancient recipe that in today’s lexicon is best compared to a smashed up ice lolly. In Sicily where it originates, it has the consistency of a sorbet in some parts, crushed ice in other, but what it does do all over Italy is refresh the palate and the mind in these hot summer days.
It used to be thought that you could only use specific machines to make a granita, but you would be wrong. A bit of preparation, a container and some freezer space and you could be enjoying this delight over the next coming weeks of summer and more tropical sunshine.
Summer berries are perfect and with strawberries in season, this is a great time to make a batch at home. Lemon and lime are also great for quenching the thirst in the heat, all you need are really ripe varieties so keep an eye out for any sicilian or amalfi lemons that specialist delis and markets may have on sale.
There is also a firm De Blasio favourite, coffee. That’s right, a few good shots of espresso from the moka machine make for a great flavour combination in a granita.
Top tip: Look out for seasonal fruit and keep things simple.
A good sized tray or old ice cream tub
One of the keys to the homemade granita is that it is very easy to make, all you need is freezer space which can be a premium, especially in a heat wave.
A 9×13-inch tray or an old vanilla ice cream tub works perfectly to make a simple granita. A food processor or blender would also be really handy but you could blitz with a hand held machine or a juicer if those are available.
Top tip: Make space in your freezer with the tray that you are going to use before getting started.
Time to make the granita
It’s not hard at all, it just takes a few minutes and the time required to freeze.
There are a few ways to go about it. Some, like this Jamie Oliver recipe talk about making a base syrup. What this does is really intensify the flavour, after all you don’t want a flavoured ice cube, you want something more potent to really whet the appetite.
This other recipe from The Kitchn is a little more simple in its approach. Blitzing fruit with sugar together and then putting directly in the freezer doesn’t mean you are heating up any elements whilst cooling the products down.
Top Tip: if you were thinking about making a coffee flavoured granita, then what you may decide to do is make the coffee in the morning, preferably a moka coffee pot and store in the fridge. When you get back from work you can instantly set about putting this in the freezer and repeating the process from one of the recipes above.
Use a fork
The beauty of a granita is the coarse texture you can create. This is done by breaking down the mixture whilst its freezing and then again before serving. The best way to do it? Scrape the tray or container with a fork. If you’re struggling set it out for a few minutes and try again.
You can add toppings if you wished, think about pairing fruit flavours with fresh herbs, mint is particularly a really good call. Coffee pairs well with ginger or as the family favourite would be, a drizzle of sambuca. It gives the flavour a different dimension.