In Chicago, the really good Italian Ice places are shut down for the winter, only open in warmer months. Mario’s Italian Lemonade, for example, is open May through September in Little Italy over by UIC. If you want the flavor of real fruit, something that’s satisfyingly tangy and a little chunky, it helps to have something like this available.
The method for this one is pretty similar to my favorite Pomegranate Granita recipe, but even simpler to make. No ice cream freezer required, just a bit of patience to let it freeze. If you don’t have time to keep stirring it as it goes, I’ll note a workaround with a blender or food processor.
It’s a great way to end a meal, but also delicious just as a snack. No dairy, naturally, and no fat. I make it in very large batches in the images below for dinner parties, but the recipe is for a nice simple small batch that you could pop into the freezer anytime. It’s only the juicing that takes any real effort anyway.
Lemon Italian Ice
My cookbook titled this Lemon Granita, but I’m going with the American title here.
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- juice of 2 large lemons
- Heat water and sugar together over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Combine lemon zest and juice with the sugar syrup. Place in a large shallow container or pan, and let freeze until semi-solid. Stir with a fork as it freezes to break up the large ice crystals, every hour or so. (No ice cream freezer needed!)
- If it freezes solid, you can also dip the pan in warm water to loosen and then break into chunks and process in a food processor into fine crystals.
- Spoon into serving glasses!