Sugar-Free Grapefruit and Lemon Granitas

You’ll hear it everywhere and from everyone: granita is so easy to make. And it’s true. You don’t need an ice cream maker, you don’t need eggs or dairy to make it (a bonus for those that have to be dairy-free), and the only (possible) fuss you’ll have to make is scraping at the ice with a fork to break it up, which is what makes it granita and not a block of flavoured liquid.

In parts of Italy, granita is the breakfast of choice, served with brioche and coffee.

If you’re thinking up ways to get your kids in the kitchen or they already are in the kitchen and want to help make a frozen treat, granita is an ideal starter, as are popsicles and, if you’re into the one-ingredient banana ice cream, this fruit-based instant “ice cream”.

I made lemon granita over the BC (British Columbia) Day long weekend and it disappeared quickly; most of it was eaten by my brothers and as they started to ponder other flavours. The very next day we made a grapefruit granita, with a recipe from the Food Network that I found on What Katie Ate (and I absolutely love Katie and her blog!).

After you’ve made granita, you’ll quickly learn that it’s really a cinch and it’s one of those things that a recipe isn’t really required. You can make it suited to your tastes and according to the level of sweetness from the fruit, keeping in mind you may have to add some sweetener depending on how much it’s watered down; ratios differ, some using more water than juice and vise vera. Some use a fruit puree instead of or as well as fruit juice. I think it largely depends on the kind you’re making – granita can also be made with coffee or chocolate – for example this recipe from Cooking for Engineers uses three cups of orange juice with one cup of water, the latter of which is used to make a simple syrup, whereas the lemon granita I’m sharing (recipe after the jump) only uses a cup of lemon juice and four cups of water.

From this, you might gather that granita is a very flexible thing. The possibilities are endless. Once you’ve made granita, you’ll want to start playing with the flavours; I already have the beginnings of a list of flavours I want to make, including the ones from the summer issue of Donna Hay (mango, lychee, and I think grapefruit).

If you make more than one flavour you can serve them together, if suitable, or serve granita over ice cream or with whipped cream (whipped coconut cream is an excellent dairy-free substitute).

And yes, these photos were taken with my iPod again; I still have to get batteries for my camera – the only reason I haven’t yet, aside from them being sold out, is that despite some of the iPod’s photographic shortcomings compared to my camera (macro and bokeh, for example), I’ve kind of started to get comfortable with its convenience and learning how to harness its strong points to take great pictures, including decent, appetizing pictures of food. Even after I get the batteries for my camera, I’ll still continue to make iPod pictures of food and post them here as I deem necessary, as well as on Instagram. (Are you on there? If not, you should. You can find me on there and follow me @zoeography. I post pictures of other things besides food, as you can see, following this link – no login required.) I plan to write a post one day specific to iPod Touch food photography.

These recipes are linked to Wellness Weekend, hosted by Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Lemon Granita
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

If you want to serve the granita in the lemon halves, use a knife (Deb of Smitten Kitchen used a grapefruit knife, though any serrated edged knife will do) to cut around the borders of the flesh, avoiding the pith and being sure not to pierce the bottom. Scoop out the flesh over a bowl so you catch all the juice. (I used a serrated edged spoon for this.) If that’s too fussy, you could also juice the lemons and then scrape out the flesh afterward. Cut off the end of the lemon halves so that they set flat and freeze in a single layer on a plate or pan.

A simple syrup is made with a cup of water and honey, which is added to taste. I only added enough honey to make it taste like a tart lemonade and the result can be described as delicate and tangy. For all you lemon lovers who like more tang and less sweet, this is for you. For a vegan option, use agave syrup in place of the honey.

Juice of 4 lemons (1 cup); reserve halves if using for presentation (see above)
3 cups water
1 cup water
Honey, to taste

Mix the lemon juice and 3 cups of water together.

Heat 1 cup of water with honey, added to taste, until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Add the simple syrup a little at a time, tasting until the desired level of sweetness (or not) has been reached.

Pour into a shallow pan and freeze for 1 hour, covering with plastic wrap to prevent freezer taste. Rake with a fork from the outside in (the middle will be soft, barely frozen, or still liquid) to create ice flakes; the size is up to you. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours, raking every 30 minutes or hour.

Rake again to loosen the ice flakes and serve in the prepared lemon halves or another vessel such as glasses or bowls.

Leftover granita can be stored in the freezer. When serving, allow to warm and soften slightly unless you want to be scraping like made and have very small ice flakes to the consistency of a slushie.


Sugar-Free Grapefruit Granita
Adapted from the Food Network via What Katie Ate

The original recipe uses 1/3 cup of superfine sugar, although I felt no need to add sweetener of any kind since we don’t really sweeten grapefruit (with one exception). This granita takes a bit longer to freeze than usual, I think because it’s mostly the grapefruit juice, even if slightly watered down but it still makes delicious results. If you use grapefruit juice with pulp or you juice the grapefruits yourself, keep the pulp in as it makes a lovely, if slight, contrast as little, pretty pink dots.

About 2 cups ruby red grapefruit juice (3 large grapefruits)
1 1/2 cups water

Mix the grapefruit juice and water together and pour into a shallow pan.

Freeze for 1 hour, covering with plastic wrap to prevent freezer taste. Rake with a fork from the outside in and gently mix with the liquid. It will have barely started to freeze, but do this anyway.

Freeze for 3 hours, raking at regular intervals of 30 minutes or an hour.

After 4 hours, the grapefruit granita at this stage will be fairly soft and at perfect serving condition. You can freeze it longer, though, if you wish or if you have leftovers.


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10 thoughts on “Sugar-Free Grapefruit and Lemon Granitas

  1. Wow, this really does sound easy–and it looks great! And, of course, any dessert that doubles as a breakfast food is right up my alley. 😉

    I had no idea these photos were taken with an iPod–obviously, you can get really good quality pics out of one of those things! (And you know, with a vegan sub for the honey, I bet this would make a perfect submission to Wellness Weekend this week. . . hope you’ll submit!). 😀

    1. Thanks for the invite Ricki! Granita is so easy. And I have to say, much less fuss than ice cream, but it’s all good. I really want to try the granita served with ice cream. This goes up with popsicles for breakfast, perfect for hot summers; dessert for breakfast is the best.

      Re: iPod pictures, it does take a bit of practice but once you get the swing of it, it’s really fun! Using different photography apps also helps and adds to the fun.

    1. You’re welcome, Kaitlin, and thank you! Once you’ve made granita, you’ll be astounded at how easy it is. I think I have as much fun making it as I do eating it, if not more. 🙂

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