Thursday, July 15, 2010

Watermelon Strawberry Ice (Granita)

A granita made from juiced watermelon and strawberries and frozen and scraped, for a tender, icy and cold treat perfect for summer.

Watermelon Strawberry Ice Granita

I tell you what, the good Lord sure knew exactly what he was doing when he planned for ripe and juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelons right in the midst of The Dog Days of Summer Down South. They are, every one, cooling foods, loaded with water and we've sure been eating our share of them here lately, no doubt. If you're heated up, I promise you that a big ole slice of ice cold watermelon will cool you down right quick and well, I thought, why not take some and turn it into a granita? Y'all, it's like instant air conditioning.

A granita is basically a frozen concoction, made from a mixture of simple syrup and some kind of flavoring, usually fruit juices and/or pureed fruit, wine and even coffee. The mixture is partially frozen, then agitated by scraping it all over with a fork, and placing it back into the freezer, where the procedure is repeated several times over the course of a few hours. I use an 8 x 8 pan because I think it gives the perfect snow-like texture, but a larger 9 x 13 inch will freeze it faster, if you're in a hurry.

Most granitas won't require this much fruit - maybe about 2 to 3 cups of juice or pureed fruit, or some combination of both - but with a composition of primarily water in the watermelon, I did want to concentrate the flavor. I also thought that the addition of strawberries would give the granita a bit more body and I added both the juice and zest of half of a lemon to give that extra punch of freshness that goes so well with strawberry.  The flavor turned out just right, and with these hot days here these past couple of days, well, let's just say I've been in it more than a few times.

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Recipe: Watermelon Strawberry Ice (Granita)

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 3 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1-1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • About 5 cups of seedless watermelon cut into chunks, roughly 1/4 of a small watermelon
  • 2 cups of whole fresh strawberries, cut into chunks
  • Extra chunks of watermelon and/or strawberry for garnish, optional

Zest 1/2 a lemon; set aside. Make a simple syrup by combining water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, add the lemon juice and the watermelon to a blender and puree. Add the strawberries and the lemon zest to the blender and puree. Combine the watermelon mixture and half of the simple syrup; taste and add additional simple syrup as needed. Pour into an 8 x 8 pan and place into the freezer.

Freezing time will vary, but check it first at about 2 hours (sooner if you use a larger pan) to see if the mixture has firmed up somewhat around the edges, but is still slightly slushy in the center. Take a fork and scrape across the surface of the frozen edges, dragging the fork from the outside edges toward the middle. Return to the freezer and as you think about it, pull it out and scrape it some more, about every 30 minutes or so. By the way, if you happen to go too long, don't stress over it. Just leave the pan on the counter and it'll soften enough in a few minutes for scraping. Then just continue the process. The secret to a good granita is the frequent agitation of the scraping.

To serve, scrape the granita again and transfer into chilled individual serving dishes. Looks really pretty in a martini glass. Garnish with a chunk of watermelon or strawberry, if desired.

Cook's Notes: Both watermelon and strawberries will vary in sweetness so you may not need all of the simple syrup. Add some, taste and then adjust.

For Apple Granita: Peel, core and chop 3 Granny Smith apples. Process in a strong blender or food processor, then press pulp through a strainer to extract as much juice as possible, discard the leftover solids. Add to the simple syrup, increasing lemons to two for juice; one for zest. Finish as above.


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©Deep South Dish
Inspired by Lemonita Granita from Skinny Italian
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Posted by on July 15, 2010
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