On our California to Oregon road trip John and I had dinner at Wayfare Tavern, Tyler Florence’s restaurant in San Francisco. In addition to the food being downright incredible there were so many other little touches that made our experience top notch. For example, the iced tea I ordered with dinner had lemon granita ice cubes in it. My mind was blown right then and there! I loved it so much I immediately made my own version when we got home from our trip.
For those who may not know a granita is a semi-frozen icy dessert that is characterized by its course texture full of crunchy ice crystals. It can be flavored with anything really – fruit, coffee, chocolate, etc. Think sophisticated SnoCone. The term granita, to me, is more about the method than a recipe or type of dish, as you’ll see below.
Domestocrat’s Lemon Granita and Iced Tea
6 lemons (yielding 1.25 cups juice)
2 cups water
Your choice of sweetener, optional (more below)
Peel the lemons. Bonus points if you can remove the rind in one cut!
You can manually juice the lemons with a hand juicer, a fork, or by squeezing them with your super strength. Since I have a juicer, and there were 6 lemons to juice, I figured I’d let my juicer do all the hard work on this one. If you’re not using a juicer you can probably skip the peeling step, no need to make extra work for yourself.
No matter what method you use, you should end up with about 1.25 cups of fresh lemon juice. A note – please don’t use any of that bottled lemon juice junk!
In a tupperware container with a tight lid, combine the lemon juice and water. Now would be an ok time to sweeten this mixture but I chose not to. (I like to sweeten my iced tea right before drinking it, you can wait until then too.) If you’re going to sweeten now I would recommend adding one teaspoon of your sweetener (sugar, Splenda, agave, simple syrup) at a time and tasting as you go. Pop the lid on and stick in the freezer.
Now here’s where we get to the granita making method! It’s simple but a little time intensive.
After you’ve first put it in the fridge, leave your lemon/water mixture alone for about 3 hours. After that time take it out and you should notice that ice crystals have begun to form (see picture on the left). Using a fork, scrape the entire mixture to form a flaky texture. Put it back in the freezer for 30 minutes and repeat this process for as many rounds as you need to until the ice mixture looks like the picture on the right. For me it took a total of about 5 rounds.
When the mixture is finished you have a granita! Using my #20 ice cream scooper I scooped ice cube sized granita balls on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and stuck them in the freezer for another hour. These will keep in an airtight container indefinitely.
I brew several batches of homemade iced tea every week so we always have some on hand. It’s so easy and I always get a ton of questions about it. Here’s my method: I fill my tea kettle up and boil as usual. I have a 2 quart plastic pitcher that I devote just to iced tea (like these). When the water has boiled I pour it into my pitcher and top off with warm tap water. I steep 4 Lipton tea bags in the pitcher until it has cooled to room temperature. I put on the lid and throw it in the fridge. Super easy!
When you’re ready, fill a glass with 2-3 lemon granita cubes, any sweetener you like, and top with fresh brewed iced tea. I’m all about simple luxury and this is totally it!