The first time I made granita I was in fourth grade. We were putting together a “cultural” cookbook and potluck lunch, and I pulled China and Italy out of the hat. After much deliberation, my Mom and I settled on Choo Choo Rice and Lemon Granita for the spread.

granita-postI don’t remember much about the Choo Choo Rice, but I do remember being enamored with granita. Who knew I could make my very own snow cone in our freezer with nothing more than a fork? My tastes have grown up since then, but my adoration of granita remains.

Granitas are a great way to show off seasonal fruits and herbs, and incredibly refreshing—whether as a palate cleanser in between courses, as a mid-day pick me up, or for dessert—in summer heat. Here are three simple steps to making your own:

Step 1 – Make a Flavorful Base – Granita is mostly water mixed with a little sweetener. Where it gets fun is in the juices and infusions you use to flavor the base. I love to use fragrant herbs, like the lemon verbena down below and different variations of basil, but zests and aromatics like ginger also work well. Blood orange makes for an especially colorful granita. You can really get creative here. Just bring the water and sweetener (honey and agave syrup work just as well as sugar) to a boil. Then turn off the heat, stir in the juice and flavorings and let steep for 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Strain and Chill – Once the mixture has steeped, strain the liquid into shallow pan and chill in the freezer for an hour.

Step 3 – Scrape it Into Granules – After an hour, the mixture will begin to form ice crystals. Use the tongs of an overturned fork to scrape the mixture and separate the granules. Freeze for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the consistency you want your granita to be, scraping two or three more times to keep the mixture nice and fluffy.

While water is the most common liquid to use, I’ve also been wanting to experiment with buttermilk and wine. What’s your favorite flavor of granita?

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