Rachel Roddy’s recipe for plum granita

Unlike ice-cream, which is evergreen, sorbet and granita don’t really have a role from late autumn to early spring. Like suncream and sandals relegated to the back of the wardrobe, fruit ices are sent to the back of the mind during the months of jumpers and thick soup, except maybe for a Christmas palate cleanser.

Their return is directly related to the weather. As days get warmer – and, this year, sweltering – smooth scoops and icy shards progress from being a novelty, to a pleasure, to a relief, to an absolute necessity.

These are days when cold showers and frozen things are essential. A spoonful of granita seems to slide down the throat, chilling as it goes. Making it, or a sorbet, by hand is like loitering in the frozen food section of a supermarket in August, enjoying the great wafts of icy air that drift from the open freezer doors.

I am not sure if I should call today’s recipe a sorbet or granita. According to US writer Jeffrey Steingarten, the difference between a sorbet and a Sicilian granita is texture: sorbet is smoother, whereas granita has a coarser, more crystalline texture, often due to agitating with a fork. I use a fork, but achieve something that is quite smooth, which I will come to later, but for the sake of a title, let’s call it “granita”. The method is the same basic one I use for watermelon and mulberry granita – fruit juice or pulp is mixed with sugar, a pinch of salt, maybe lemon to sharpen the edges, then frozen. No real need for strict measures or a machine.

Plum sorbet was necessary, because three kilos of reduced-price plums from Testaccio market turned out to be the wrong side of ripe. As I unpacked the rest of the shopping, which had sat in the car for two hours, the plums snaked on to the work surface like flat tyres into a pavement and welcomed a halo of fruit flies. Plum granita was the solution – and a revelation. I have always thought a ripe, red plum has something custardy about it, both in texture and taste. .

It was the exceptional ice-cream maker Kitty Travers who taught me the additional sugar isn’t just to augment the natural sweetness of the fruit, it also has an important job to do: it changes the nature of the ice crystals, which means the granita is smoother, and also prevents it from freezing too hard. I reckon 1.2kg fruit to 200g sugar and a pinch of salt. Alcohol does this job, too, so you could substitute some of the sugar for a tablespoon or two of vodka, gin or kirsch. .

Plum granita

1.2 kg ripe, purple plums
200g sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp vodka or lemon

Wash the plums, then split them and remove the stones. Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree the plum flesh. Dissolve the sugar and a pinch of salt in 100g hot water, and add to the puree along with the vodka or lemon juice, and pulse again.

Scrape the mixture into a glass or plastic box, then put in the freezer for a couple of hours, by which time it should be partially frozen, especially at the edges. Use a fork to scape the frozen mixture from the edges of the container and to scratch and disturb the surface, then put it back in the freezer for another hour.

Repeat the scratching and return to the freezer until the granita is softly frozen. If it gets too hard, 10 minutes in a warm spot should make it soft enough to stir/scratch, and serve.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more