There is nothing simpler to make than a fresh fruit granita. For me, the only hard part is finding real estate in my freezer for the pan to stir it up in.
But springtime means strawberries. And lots of ’em!
Years ago, taste was hybridized out of commercial strawberries in favor of firmness for long-term storage, but many farmers are growing varieties of berries that have lots of flavor again. No matter where you live or shop, in supermarkets or greengrocers, you can determine quality by taking a big sniff. Where you find fragrance, flavor is sure to follow. And I find tossing strawberries in a bit of sugar and letting them stand for a bit releases their juicy sweetness and the berries become a rosy-red color.
Granita is basically a shaved ice. No ice cream machine is needed. All you need is a fork. The mixture is simply raked while freezing. Once frozen, spoon the icy crystals over vanilla ice cream, or piled into a glass by itself, perhaps with a complimentary fruit sorbet, or maybe a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
1. Slice the berries into pieces. Toss the strawberries with the sugar and let stand for at least one hour at room temperature, or up to four hours. The strawberries will be very juicy and a lovely red color.
2. Place a non-reactive shallow metal or glass tray in the freezer (a long, rectangular lasagna pan works perfectly, but you can improvise.)
3. After one hour, puree the strawberries and their juices with the water in a blender. Taste, and add a squirt of fresh lemon juice if desired. At this point, if you want to strain out any seeds, you can. (I do.)
3. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan in the freezer. Check after 30 minutes. As the mixture begins to freeze, use a fork to scrape the frozen puree that froze around the edges into the center. Return to freezer.
4. Check the granita every 30 minutes, and scrape again as before, perhaps with a bit more vigor as the mixture hardens. It should take about 2 hours of freezing and scraping to finish completely.