It’s August and the days and nights are warm here in sunny Southern California. When I need cooling off, Granita is my new go-to dessert. I had gotten into the bad habit of treating myself to a small bowl of ice cream… every night. The scale is not my friend. Then I stumbled upon granita. A simple, semi-frozen fruit dessert made with just a handful of ingredients: fresh fruit, water, sugar and various flavorings. The recipes that called my name used strawberries, but too much sugar to my liking. After all, I’m looking for something healthy to replace the ice cream. Something with less fat and less sugar. Granita fits the bill. I cut the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup and ramped up the nutrition profile and flavor punch with a mixture of fresh berries. They’re naturally sweet, especially when in season. Why not let the sweetness of the berries do the job!
One more thing, portion control is important when trying to cut back. Here’s where the half pint mason jars come into play. By pre-portioning the granita in the jars, I am less tempted to overdo it. Of course, there’s nobody stopping me from having more than one at a time, except myself.
Fresh Berry Granita in a Jar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 cups mixed berries (I used 3 cups strawberries, 1/2 cup blueberries, and 1/2 cup blackberries)
- 2 medium sized lemons
Step One: Make Simple Syrup
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove pan from heat and allow syrup to cool. This goes faster if you remove the syrup from the hot pan. I poured it into a glass measuring cup for faster cooling.
Step Two: Prepare Berries
Rinse the berries under cool water using a colander. Hull and slice the strawberries. This is a great way to use up berries that are a little past their prime. I love berries and always seem to buy more than I can eat before they go bad.
Step Three: Zest and Juice the Lemons
Rinse the lemons thoroughly. If you’re using lemons from your garden, scrub them with a brush to remove any traces of dirt. Zest the lemons using a citrus zester. I highly recommend purchasing a citrus zester. You’ll find it much more efficient than using a grater. But if all you’ve got is a grater, that works, too. Just chop the grated rind until you have fine bits. After zesting the lemons, cut them in half and juice them. Remove the seeds from the juice using a strainer, or a fork if you don’t have a strainer.
Step Four: Make Berry Blend
Combine the berries, lemon juice and the zest in a blender (a food processor works, too). Purée until smooth. This only takes a minute. Add the cooled syrup and blend again.
Step Five: Fill Mason Jars and Freeze
Fill nine 8-ounce mason jars about 3/4 full. Moving the jars from counter to freezer is easier if you put them on a pan for transporting. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and freeze for one hour until edges are icy and the center is slushy.
Step Six: Scrape Into Crystals
Using a fork, scrape down the sides and stir the frozen crystallized bits to the center. Continue freezing and scraping about every 30 minutes. It should take about 3 hours to complete the process. The end result is flaky crystals of yummy berry goodness. Cover with mason jar lids and keep frozen until ready to eat. You can keep these in the freezer for several weeks, just remember to stir them again before serving.
Nutrition Information Per Serving (one jar): 62 calories, 0 gm fat, 16 gm carbohydrate, 1 gm fiber , 1 gm protein, 14 gm sugar