One of my favorite activities to do with a small child is to make ice cream in a zip-shut bag. It’s a great hands-on activity, active enough to keep them busy, and produces a delicious outcome. Now, I can add granita to my activity list. While not requiring the shake, shake, shaking that ice cream does, the waiting time with granita can be occupied by reading a good book.
Have you recently made kefir cream cheese and are now wondering what to do with all that probiotic-rich acid whey? Your plants would enjoy it as a fertilizer if you dilute it 1:1 with water. And if you have the constitution for it, you can drink it straight for a sour, gut-healthy kick. You can also make your leftover whey into a delicious, gourmet-level dessert that is perfect for the hot months of summer.
Do you have water? Sugar? A bit of salt? A spice or two? Then you have all it takes to make granita, a refreshing treat that glistens in a bowl like a handful of crystals and can flex to any flavor you want.
Originally from Sicily, making this dessert only requires a bit of time, a sheet pan, and a fork. And once you learn the process, you can use your imagination to make a different flavor every time.
How to Make Granita
Yield: 4 servings
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup acid whey
• ¼ cup sweetener (sugar works, but honey or maple syrup can work, too!)
• ½ teaspoon salt
- In a saucepan, boil the 1 cup of water. Dissolve the sugar and pinch of salt in it, then let the mixture cool down to room temperature. Now, add the acid whey (you don’t want to add it to the hot syrup and kill all your wonderful bacteria buddies!)
- Place a baking sheet in your freezer (you might have to do some re-arranging to make sure it can lay flat).
- Pour the granita syrup onto the baking sheet and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
- Take out the pan, and scrape apart the material with a fork. The process I use is a very technical-sounding “Fluff and Smush.” I scrape at the ice to make some nice mounds, then smash it down with the fork to break up any chunks.
- It will look like a half-melted slushie this first round.
- After 30 more minutes, take the pan out, and scrape at it again. This time, you should start seeing some nice crystals forming. Fluff, smush, and spread evenly.
- After 30 more minutes, your granita might be ready. If not fully frozen, fluff, smush, and give it another 20 minutes.
How to Serve and Flavor Granita
To serve, spoon out into a bowl (I find wooden bowls help insulate it nicely on a hot day!), and then add your flavors. The following flavors are my suggestions, but you can certainly make up one that sounds good to you!
To the four bowls of frozen and fluffed granita base, top with the following:
• Sliced strawberries
• A sprig of mint, as a garnish
• Lemon zest, as a garnish
When heating the granita base, add 2 teaspoons/2 teabags of rooibos tea and a dash of cinnamon, and allow to brew while the syrup cools. Strain out all solids before mixing in the whey and pouring onto the baking sheet in the freezer.
Once frozen, top with the following:
• a handful of diced mango
• slivered almonds
• juice of 1 lime
• lime zest
Granita can be stored in a container in the freezer for up to a week, but you’ll need to give it a good re-fluffing before serving it again.
NOTE: You can increase/reduce the sugar to suit your taste, but you can’t take it out completely if you want the fluffy crystals that are typical to granita. My husband and I tried a no-sugar version, and we ended up with a solid chunk of ice that was impossible to fluff.
While granita doesn’t require any special fermentation vessel, you may need to stock up on supplies for your other ferments. To get fermentation lids for Mason jars made to last a lifetime, visit the Fermentools store.
Andrew and Michelle are the new owners of a 12-acre homestead in rural America. They are just embarking on this journey that is far removed from their city-life upbringing, so they realize that they have a lot to learn in order to succeed in this new place. Come along with them and read more about what they learn as they make this transition at their blog Simple Life Homestead.