Cool Off Sicilian Style
In the 9th century, Sicily came under Arab rule and with that rule came new foods like lemons, oranges and sugarcane. It wasn’t long before locals used those ingredients along with snow from nearby Mt Etna to make granita, a word that translates to grainy. The refreshing mixture was perfect to quench thirst on blistering hot days. As time went on, a manual crank machine called a pozzetto did the work of creating granita.
This may sound strange to us but in Sicily breakfast is granita always served with or in a type of brioche (brioscia), a yeasted sweet roll with a small bread knot (tuppo) on top that mimicked the way Sicilian women wore their hair.
The best lemon granita I have ever had was in Sicily after a long, hot day touring the ruins of Paestum. When I got home, I remembered that thrust quenching taste and made this refreshing “slush” that is the perfect way to cool off during the dog days of summer.
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh lemon juice
Pour the water into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Add the sugar. When the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid has become clear, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down.
Squeeze enough lemons to make 2 cups. Strain the juice through a fine strainer.
Add the lemon juice to the cooled sugar/water and whisk well.
Pour the liquid into a plastic or metal container with a lid and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Remove container from the freezer and stir vigorously to break up all the ice crystals with a spoon.
Repeat this process 2 or 3 times more until the consistency is like ice chips.
If you have an ice cream maker, even better. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for making sorbet. The granita will keep in the freezer for up to a month; when ready to serve, scoop into ice cream cups or small bowls.