Lemon granita is tart, cold, crunchy, refreshing and sunshine in a glass. It is one of the classical granita flavors from Sicily. Although I think it should be a summer treat, lemons are available in Sicily year-round, and mainly a winter fruit in the US. Sicilian lemons are a lot like California's Meyer lemons; sweeter, less acidic, thinner-skinned than regular lemons. Meyer lemons are spring fruits, well unless you have a Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, like I do. Our tree produces lemons practically year-round, also like those in Sicily.
Right now, our short squat lemon tree bush has about 200 lemons fighting for space on the limbs of the teetering dwarf. The bush might fall over from the weight of all the lemons. I picked some of the ripe ones and made lemon granita. After my first crunch of the tangy and sweet lemon ice, I was transported back to Sicily and the summer. I think I even felt the sun's heat and heard the Mediterrenean lap against the shore with each bite. Maybe this is the reason lemons are a winter fruit, so one can believe the day is warm and sunny, even in the midst of one that is cold, windy and rainy.
I had actually planned to write about my Sicilian breakfast----coffee granita with whipped cream. Yes, that is a normal Sicilian breakfast, which they use to wash down brioche. But, life brought me lemons, so I made both lemon and coffee granita. Lucky you, me, and those who came to dinner last night.
Both granitas are extremely easy to make. The hardest part of it is remembering to go to the freezer every 30 minutes and scrape the mixture, so you get a chunky texture. I hope you make both and let me know what you think. Also, I'm going to have lemons galore---what would you like me to make with them? (Please post your thoughts/requests in the comments section.)
Makes 8 servings
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Rind from 2 Meyer lemons (use peeler and remove any of the white pith)
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
Boil the water and granulated sugar. Remove from the heat once the mixture boils, and cool to room temperature. Add the rinds from the lemons and lemon juice and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Strain out the rinds, and pour into a 13x9-inch glass dish. Put in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, scrape the mixture with a fork. Repeat this process every 30 minutes for 3 to 4 hours. The mixture should be frozen but in small chunky shavings.
Makes 8 servings
5 cups hot coffee
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Add the granulated sugar to the hot coffee and stir to dissolve the sugar. If you like the granita a little sweeter, use 1 1/2 cups of sugar. (If the sugar doesn’t dissolve, heat until sugar dissolves.) Add the vanilla extract and cool to room temperature. Pour into a 13x9-inch glass dish. Put in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, scrape the mixture with a fork. Repeat this process every 30 minutes for 3 to 4 hours. The mixture should be frozen but in small chunky shavings.