Essentially an Italian Ice is similar to a sorbet but its got a much higher water content. In the New York Metro area they are referred to as “Italian Ices” but they are very sweet, usually containing some form of corn syrup and I’m frequently disappointed with the tartness level, so I tried actually making some myself. What I’ve come up with is actually closer to a Sicilian Granita in that it has a very snowy texture.
Basically the formula I have been successful with is:
1 Quart of Liquid
1 Cup of Sugar
To this, I add a LOT of citrus juice and a LOT of citrus zest. So for a regular Lemon Ice, I will use the zest and juice of say, 5 lemons, added to 1 Quart of water.
Above is a Watermelon/Lime Granita and a Lemon/Mint/Honey Granita.
For the Lemon/Mint/Honey one, I used two quarts of water, zest and juice of 10 lemons (half the zest reserved) with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of honey, and a bunch of mint leaves with the stalks, that I heated in a pot until boiling, stirred until sugar and honey was fully incorporated, and then allowed to cool down. I then poured it thru a strainer into a large plastic container, discarding the solid elements. I then put it thru my ice cream machine to freeze, along with the reserved zest.
After freezing in the ice cream machine, it’s poured into containers and then allowed to harden in the freezer further overnight. To serve, usea big spoon to scrape up the granita until you get like a layer of snow,and then scoop up with a ice cream disher.
The watermelon one is slightly different.
What I’ve done here cut up approximately two quarts of watermelon, rind removed, and send it thru the blender (the trusty Vita-Mix) until pureed. It’s okay to leave the seeds in but don’t puree it so fine that the seeds get liquefied as well. After you do this, send it thru a strainer as above, until you just get watermelon juice left. You should get around a quart and an half of liquid, maybe a little bit more.
This you put in a pot, with 2 cups of sugar, and the juice of ten limes, with about half the zest as before. Cook until it comes to a boil, taste. If it’s too sweet, add some more lime juice and some more water. Allow to cool down, and then send thru the ice cream machine with the remaining zest to freeze. Pour into containers and allow to harden in the freezer.
By the way, you can make this without an ice cream machine, you just need large containers and the freezer space, where you can pour the cooled down mixture into. Every hour or so just give it a stir until you end up with like a slush, and then you allow it to harden. The texture will be a little different but it will still be very good.