Granita al Limone

Have you ever been asked what you have for breakfast when you meet people who think you are an interesting new specimen coming from a country other than theirs? Italians are taken aback when I answer fried rice with something salty like dried fish or cured meat. From an exclusively sweet-breakfast country, this is more than surprising. But after 12 years in this country, I gave up all the thoughts of salty breakfast.  I have Italianized my breakfast too, aside from my other habits. Yes, I am now a sweet-breakfast-eater like all the rest.

As I have turned over a new leaf, I have learned to become dependent on my daily espresso too.  I am one of those fastidious travelers who carry my own espresso maker in my luggage whenever we go abroad.  Believe it or not, it's hard to find genuine espressos outside Italy.  

Once, after having to choose between a myriad of espresso types, double, triple or what-have-you, in an American coffee shop chain abroad, I finally yielded to the most normal one I could put my finger on.  After downing the slightly larger than normal cup, I ended up confined to my bed the rest of the day fearing a heart attack from the palpitations I got from one single cup.  What do they put in the coffee anyway? 

To go back to breakfasts, granita al limone is the summer breakfast of champions in Sicily.  As a kid, my husband would have a glass of granita al limone with a Sicilian brioche on the side.  I say breakfast for champions because you need a heroic stomach to digest the extra-strong granita al limone in Sicily.  There is a variety of flavors, one being coffee, the most popular one in the island.

The recipe I found in a Sicilian site used an incredible amount of lemons with so little water that by just looking at the recipe, I was already wincing from its acidity.  I halved the amount of lemons & sugar.  The granita still came out hair-raisingly acidic.  So I am toning down the amount again in the recipe that I am writing in this blog.  If you want to have a sudden jolt from the intensity of the lemons, go for it and double the amount of lemons & sugar I wrote.

Granita al Limone

  • 1 liter water
  • 200 g. white sugar
  • 3 large lemons, juice & rind
  1. Combine water & sugar in a cooking pot until the sugar melts but do not let it boil.  Let it cool.
  2. Add the lemon juice & rind to the syrup. 
  3. Transfer the mixture to a container and freeze in the freezer. You can also put it in an ice cream maker to break the crystals but do not churn it too long.
  4. Mix the granita once in a while (preferably every 30 minutes) to avoid solidifying.  

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