As much as I enjoy spending a few hours in the kitchen, I absolutely, positively, disdain grocery shopping. You would think shopping for food and then preparing that food would go hand in hand, but in my case, not so much. This leads me to play the game of leftovers every few weeks where I clean out the refrigerator and try to cobble together whatever I can.
It’s actually somewhat surprising how far this can go. I once thought I had nothing to eat and then ate for a week with what I had on hand. Like my dad once said about gasoline, “It’s amazing how far you can go if you just keep driving.” He also runs out of gasoline about twice a year, so there’s that.
At any rate, during my last refrigerator dive I found some strawberries and lemons that had seen better days, so I turned what was originally a strawberry orange granita into a strawberry lemon granita.
In addition to my first granita, this is also the first time I used an essential oil in a recipe. A friend of mine is a big advocate, but when it comes to herbal oils like basil and cilantro and oregano, I’ve always gravitated toward fresh herbs.
I do enjoy my citrus oils though, and I think about these energy-bite-like treats with almond butter, orange essential oil, dried cranberries, and shredded coconut that my sister once made quite often. Do any of you cook with essential oils?
Overall, I was happy with the granita. When I make something born more out of necessity than desire, I often have low expectations, but I liked this frozen treat. The flavor was impressive, and I’ve found myself using spoonfuls of it to flavor drinks from sparkling water to a light witbier.
The recipe does not take a lot of time to pull together, but it does take some time to see to fruition, so you will likely want to save this for a day when you plan to spend some time in the kitchen or around the house. Plan for raking the icy crystals every 30 minutes or so for about three hours until it’s ready to serve, then enjoy!
Strawberry Lemon Granita
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 drops lemon essential oil (or lemon extract - see notes)
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
- Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Warm the mixture over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- When the simple syrup has cooled, pour it into a blender with the lemon juice, lemon essential oil, and hulled and sliced strawberries.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 pan (you can use a baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet) and freeze for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer, rake the mixture with a fork, and then return the pan to the freezer.
- Repeat this freeze for 30 minutes, rake, and refreeze cycle for about 3 hours until the granita is frozen into flaky crystals.
- Cover and freeze for up to three days before serving. Give the granita a final rake before serving if not enjoying immediately.
You can substitute 1/4 cup orange juice and 4 drops of orange essential oil for the lemon juice and lemon essential oil. If you do not have essential oils on hand, you can substitute flavor extracts. However, oils are much more powerful than extracts, so you will want to use more than three drops of extract to get a good amount of flavor.
If you do not have a blender, you can puree the strawberries in a food processor, then stir the puree together with the liquids in a separate bowl.
Each time you rake the granita, smooth it back out into a flat layer so you don't end up with a pile of granita in the center of your dish.