Watermelon Granita

watermelon granita

This morning I’m dreaming of the Outer Banks, fresh watermelons, and the watermelon granita I’d make because we were always overoptimistic about watermelons. (They are pretty irresistible.)

Click here if you are impatient and need to jump straight to the recipe (and possibly miss out on my helpful commentary and humor).

Every year as arrive in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we stop at Morris Farm Market in Barco, grab a cart, and buy more fruit than we can comfortably fit around our feet and suitcases in the car.

A giant watermelon, three cantaloupes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and the family favorite, local peaches, along with a jug of strawberry cider for the kids are squeezed into the car after rearranging luggage and the other detritus of travel.

Midway through the week, the peaches have been devoured, the cider is drained and we are already down to one lonely cantaloupe, but despite constant noshing on the watermelon, we hadn’t yet cut into the other half. It is delicious, but it appears to be bottomless. Or multiplying. I’m not sure which.

Either way, even after pouring five cups worth into a blender, I still have half a bowl left plus the uncut half.

It was a VERY large watermelon.

I needed to find another creative way to use it up, and in the heat, a granita was just the thing. This is an alcohol-free granita, so the entire family can enjoy – but a bit of lemon vodka (or white rum, with muddled mint – yum) would make it a bit more of a post-beach cocktail for the grown-ups.

It really is the perfect treat for a hot day – it is light, not too sweet, and very refreshing. We can serve it in a bowl, similar to shaved ice, rather than a drink.  When the kids want it as a slush, we just add a bit of lemon-lime soda to get to the desired consistency.

In the way that I will never be a food blogger, I do not have step-by-step photos. But let’s face it, the steps are basic, and do you really need pictures to show you how to put a watermelon in a blender?

(I thought not.)

Our watermelon was really flavorful and sweet (and I didn’t have a half cup of sugar in the beach cottage) so I confess, we added less than what was called for, which was perfect for the adult palate. I could easily add the full half-cup, but if you like a more subtle taste, a 1/3 cup sugar worked well.  My recommendation is to add a bit at a time, tasting frequently, and stop when you are happy.

The key part of this is time and patience. It WILL take a good 5+ hours for the granita to freeze. The stirring is crucial. About halfway through, it will be slushy, like so:

watermelon granita

It doesn’t look like, well, anything, but just wait.

Every hour, pull it out of the freezer (or send a text to whoever is at the house at the moment and ask them) to give it a stir (or a scrape) with a fork. The end result should be a grainy frozen concoction.

Grainy = granita. Got it?

Then scoop into a glass and eat it up with a spoon.

Watermelon Granita

Alternately,  scoop it into a martini/wine/margarita glass, pour a bit of libation over the top – either lemon vodka or white rum with muddled mint is our preference, and enjoy on the deck. It really is refreshing – perfect for the summer heat!

What is your favorite dessert or drink with summer fruit?

Watermelon Granita

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Instructions

  1. Place ingredients into a blender & puree until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into a glass container & cover.
  3. Place container in freezer.
  4. Freeze for one hour, then stir granita with a FORK.
  5. Re-cover and return to freezer.
  6. Repeat stirring process every hour until granita is firm (stirring will become a scraping motion);
  7. this will take approximately 5-8 hours.
  8. Before spooning into dessert bowls, give it one final stir with a fork.
  9. Alternately - it can be served as a drink. For a non-alcoholic version, top with lemon-lime soda and garnish with mint and a wedge of watermelon. For a drink with a bit more octane, we like to top it with a citron vodka or with white rum in which we've muddled mint.
watermelon granita

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