Southern Watermelon Granita is the perfect cool-down treat for these hot summer days. Boasting only three ingredients, the granita is as refreshing as it is show-stopping gorgeous! The granita produces the perfect marriage between the sweet and juicy watermelon, and the tart lime.
What is Watermelon Granita?
Granita, pronounced “gruh·nee·tuh” originally hails from Sicily. It is a semi-frozen treat made from water, sugar and some type of flavoring. It’s related to sorbet, but has more of a crystalline texture that can vary from somewhat smooth to coarse. Unlike ice cream and gelato that require a machine to produce the best texture, gratina only requires a pan for the freezing and a fork to produce the shaved ice.
In the South, a favorite component of gratina is watermelon which is abundant during the hot summer months. Watermelon is 92% water and is low in calories. Despite its high water content, watermelon is packed with lots of nutrients including vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, coper, manganese, selenium, choline, betaine and lycopene. In fact, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Who knew that something so delicious could be so good for you?
While the typical ingredients of granita are water, sugar and flavorings, I decided to kick things up a notch with my three ingredients: Watermelon, frozen limeade concentrate and Sprite. I used regular Sprite because that’s what I had on hand. However, you could also use sugar-free Sprite or 7-Up.
Cutting the Watermelon
The most hands-on time-consuming part of making the granita was cutting the watermelon. The easiest way that I’ve found is to first cut the watermelon in half using a very sharp knife. The sharp knife is a must. However, it doesn’t matter whether you cut the watermelon length-wise or width-wise.
Once the watermelon was cut, I placed one of the halves cut-side down on a cutting board. Then, I cut 1 to 1 1/2-inch vertical slices through the watermelon. Next, I turned the watermelon 90° and cut 1 to 1 1/2-inch vertical slices to form a crosshatch pattern. This produced watermelon “sticks” that were then a piece of cake to cut into cubes!
Making the Southern Watermelon Granita
To start, I placed the watermelon pieces in my food processor fitted with a steel blade. I processed the watermelon for 7 or 8 seconds.
I have a really large food processor. However, you don’t want to over-fill your food processor or blender. Otherwise, when you press “go” the mixture will likely flow over the top. To be safe, work in batches to purée the watermelon.
Next, I added the limeade concentrate and Sprite to the watermelon purée. I stirred everything together and then poured the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch pan.
That’s it – I put the granita into the freezer. At this point there were two ways that I could proceed. The first time that I made this, I left the watermelon granita in the freezer for about 2 hours until it started to freeze around the edges. Then, I removed it from the freezer. Using a fork, I drew the frozen edges towards the center and returned the granita to the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so after that, I repeated the process until the whole pan was filled with the granita ice crystals.
After that first time, I decided to go the lazy route and leave the granita in the freezer until the whole pan was frozen. Then, I drew a fork across the granita until all of the mixture was ice crystals.
Talk about good and refreshing! The Southern Watermelon Granita was amazing. The lime perfectly complimented the taste of the watermelon.
If you want to WOW your family and friends at your 4th of July cookout, think about ending the meal with this awesome dessert. Yum!
Southern Watermelon Granita
- 8 cups seedless watermelon chunks (1/2 seedless watermelon) (See Tip 1)
- 3/4 cup (6-ounces) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
- 1 1/2 cups (12-ounces) Sprite or 7-Up (See Tip 2)
- Working in batches, place watermelon in food processor fitted with a steel blade or blender. Purée until watery and smooth, 6 to 7 pulses. (See Tip 3)
- Add limeade concentrate and Sprite; stir to combine.
- Pour into 9 x 13-inch pan. Place in freezer until mixture begins to freeze around the edges.
- With a fork, draw ice from the edges towards the center. Return to the freezer, and then repeat this process about 3-4 times, every 30 minutes, or until all of the granita mixture is formed of ice crystals. (See Tip 4)
- Serve frozen. Yield: 10 servings. (See Tips 5 and 6)
Chula's Expert Tips
- The easiest way to cut a watermelon is to first cut it in half. Then, place one of the halves cut-side down on a cutting board. Cut 1 to 1 1/2-inch vertical slices through the watermelon. Next, turn the watermelon 90° and cut 1 to 1 1/2-inch vertical slices to form a crosshatch pattern. This produces watermelon “sticks” that are then a piece of cake to cut into cubes!
- I used regular Sprite. However, you could also use sugar-free Sprite or 7-Up.
- Because of its high water content, watermelon doesn't take much processing to purée it. However, be careful not to over-fill the food processor or blender. Otherwise, it'll overflow and make a mess. Depending on the size of your food processor or blender, it's better to purée the watermelon in several stages.
- Rather than fool with shaving the ice every 30 minutes or so, you can just freeze the whole pan of granita. Once it's frozen, draw a fork over the granita until all of the mixture is formed of ice crystals.
- Store granita ice crystals in the freezer in Ziploc bag or covered container.
- For variation, use the watermelon granita mixture to make popsicles!