Sicilian Granita

Gelsi and Orange Granite

I’ve given up my one (sometimes two) gelati a day for a new habit.  Sicilian granita is my new vice; it’s a burst of chilled fruit in a cup.  Fruit puree, simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar heated until the sugar dissolves) and a machine (or a freezer and a fork) is all it takes.  Today a Sicilian told me that it also takes a Sicilian hand and the water of the area to make the perfect granita, and that is why only in Sicily can you find a good granita.   I’m hoping this regional loyalty fanaticism is not accurate, as I’ll soon to make some with California water and my Sicilian-American hand (I didn’t ask if that counted as a “Sicilian Hand”).

Flavors of Granite

Besides fruit flavors there are also pistachio and almond, made with a puree of each nut, chocolate (this chocoholic loves this flavor) and coffee.  Coffee granita with a dollop of whipped cream is part of the Sicilian breakfast.  Some of my favorite flavors are: chocolate (of course), gelsi (mulberry), lampone (raspberry), pesca (peach), anguria (watermelon), pistachio, which is the flavor of pistachio intensified by the sugar and ice, and the classic limone (lemon).  I do realize it seems all I’ve been doing in Sicily is sampling granita.

Pistachio Granita

Today I’m in Ortigia, an island south of the main part of Syracuse, and taking my morning coffee granita on the waterfront.  While I get a sweetened version of caffeine and think of how to make the pistachio granita at home, you can find a recipe for watermelon granita here.

Coffee Granita along the Ortigia Waterfront

I will have to have another fruit flavored one later in the afternoon.  I’m sure I can count it as a serving of fruit. Hummm, in that case, I might need two more “servings of fruit” today.

Ortigia Waterfront



  1. My Carolina Kitchen
    September 8th

    I love granitas. Our favorite is either espresso flavored or Campari and orange juice. So easy to make and an ice cream maker isn’t necessary. Like you said, just freeze and scrape with a fork. I’ve never tried the chocolate one you mentioned. It sounds wonderful.

  2. Paula Aiello
    September 8th

    I confess to a preference for gelato, but because granitas are less “dense” they give more quantity yet aren’t as filling. I prefer granitas when the weather is really warm.
    I like most flavors. Although I’m generally not a fan of melon-flavored drinks, adding the chocolate chips in the watermelon may win me over :-)
    There is definitely a place for both in a comprehensive traveler’s diet.
    Any news about the cookies I asked about?
    NOTA BENE: I’m looking for a really good CUCCIDATI recipe to make for Christmas (our fig tree is over productive this year!!) Ask around to see if you get any good hints.

  3. Food Lover Kathy
    September 9th

    Paula: I’m still working on finding the name to the cookie—everyone I ask says “pasta di mandorla” (almond paste).
    I’m looking for cuccidati everyday. No one really knows what I’m saying when I say cuccidati. I found out today it’s for a number of reasons: 1) cuccidati is Sicilian dialect for “bucellati.” 2) I don’t say it with the Palermitano accent–c sound like a g and emphasis on the “d”–, so the Italians don’t understand me. 3) They’re more common around the Palermo area, so I’ll wait until I get there. You may already know this but cuccidati are VERY labor intensive (I’ve promised to make them with the figs from my aunt’s tree—luckily for me she hasn’t had a lot of figs!!), but I have a delicious recipe from my nonna, which I’ll find and share….soon. (I’ve been told by my aunts that it was the best cuccidati in Pittsburg, they’re not biased or anything, though.

  4. Paula Aiello
    September 13th

    Very interesting – the Sicilian dialect has always been completely imcomprehensible to me except for the words I heard often.
    I know cuccidati are a lot of work, which is why I don’t make them often :-) I’m sure your nonna’s recipe will be fine and my mom says she has one or two that are good.
    Forget about the nugatoli … I never liked the ones my grandfather made that much anyway; I just wondered whether I disliked the cookie itself or just the way he made them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.