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Granita also known in Italian as granita siciliana refers to a semi-frozen dessert prepared from sugar, water and other flavorings. Hailing from Sicily, yet present all over Italy (although the Sicilian granita being slightly different from the remaining Italy), it is similar to sorbet and Italian ice. Although common granita recipe in Sicily results in granita having coarser and more crystalline texture. Across the west coast and in Palermo, it is very granule-like and in the east it is almost as smooth as sorbet. This is greatly the outcome of many freezing methods. The softer granita recipes are made in a gelato machine, although the coarser kinds are frozen with just occasional stirring, then scooped or shaved to create disintegrated crystals.

Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation of Granita

The ingredients that vary in granita recipe include usual and conventional flavoring ingredients such as lemon juice, mandarin oranges, jasmine, coffee, almonds, mint and when in season wild strawberries and black mulberries. Chocolate granitas possess a tradition in the city of Catania and as per Steingarten, nowhere else in Sicily. The fine distinctions of the Sicilian ingredients are prime to the flavor of the finished granita: Sicilian lemons are less acidic, more floral types resembling Meyer lemons, although the almonds added contain some amount of bitter almonds, vital to the signature almond flavor. The preparation begins with heating of water along with granulated sugar and lime zest and juice gently until all the sugar dissolves. Typically it must boil for about 3 minutes, after which, it is taken off the heat and cooled. Strawberries or raspberries must be liquidised together with the syrup till they turn smooth, strained to eliminate pips and poured into a container.
It must be frozen for 2 up to hours or till the mixture gets frozen around the edges. The ice must be drawn with a fork from the edges towards the centre, returned to the freezer repeating this process about 3-4 times, every 30 minutes or till all of the granita mixture is formed of ice crystals. It should be served straight away.

Serving and Having Granita

Granita recipe with coffee is very familiar in the city of Messina and granita with almonds is well-liked in the city of Catania. Granita along with a yeast pastry known as brioche is a regular breakfast during summer time. The Sicilian brioche is normally flatter and broader than the French variety.
Granita is normally seen served as a slush-type drink unlike than a dessert, in a paper or plastic cup with a plastic lid and a straw (commonly a spoon straw).

Popular Granita Variations

Espresso Granita is a granita recipe using hot brewed espresso or flavored coffee, sugar, heavy cream and ground cinnamon.
Strawberry Granita water, sugar, very ripe strawberries and optionally sweetened whipped cream.
Lemon Granita is made using large lemons, water and sugar.
Raspberry Granita is made with raspberries, fresh or frozen water and sugar.
Peach Granita is made with large peaches, water and sugar.