Hello friends! It’s been awhile. A and I had a lovely weekend celebrating our six-year anniversary (!!!), starting out with picking cherries with one of our bff couples, which ended up being the inspiration for this How Tuesday. I haven’t been berry picking since my family moved to Northern California when I was a kid. A was a trooper, getting up early, reaching through thorny brambles to reach the olallaberries hidden underneath. (Never had a olallaberry? They’re awesome. Tart, tasty, and juicy. Sadly for the rest of the world, they’re only found in California. That’s why we pay the big bucks to live here!) Climbing ladders to find the ruby-colored jewels peeking out from between the leaves.
It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and we had the best time. And we picked a little bit of fruit. Four and a half pounds of olallaberries, and ten pounds of cherries. Caleb and Elaine kicked our butts, though, hauling in over 14 pounds of cherries. They’re got years of experience on us, though, so I think we can take them next year.
When I got home I went a little cherry-crazy, and came up with a recipe that tasted so much like summer that it made me jump up and down and cry, “oh, the cleverness of me!” before taking a bowl out to relax in the atrium. How to make cherry lime granita, coming your way.
Granita is kind of like a shaved ice for grown-ups. It’s what people like me who are sadly without ice cream makers make to suspend the taste of juicy fruit before the bounty of summer is over. Sadly I don’t have step-by-step pictures of the process because I was doing about ten things at once while I made this (including crossing some things off of The List…stay tuned!) But trust me, it’s as easy as freezing fruit. Because that’s basically all you do.
I made this recipe by ratios, so you can easily modify it to make as much or as little as you’d like. As I said, I went a little crazy and made a ton.
- 3 parts fresh cherries (I used six cups-worth)
- 1 part simple syrup, recipe follows (since I used six cups of cherries, that means I used two cups of simple syrup. You can add more if you’re using sour cherries, or if you like your deserts super sweet)
- 1 tablespoon of lime juice per cup of fruit used (about 1/2 a lime per tablespoon)
- 1.5 teaspoons of Sake per cup of fruit used (this can substituted or omitted entirely. Adding alcohol lowers the freezing point of the granita, resulting in a finer ice crystal, smoothing out the texture of the granita. I used Sake because that’s what I had, and it was a very delicate flavor, almost completely hidden by the big flavor of the cherries. I can see silver rum being really good in this, too.)
- As much torn mint leaves as you like, to taste (I used a generous handful)
- small pinch of salt
Make Simple Syrup
I saw simple syrup for sale at Trader Joes the other day, which completely flummoxed me. It’s not like it’s called hard-to-make syrup. It couldn’t be easier to whip some up. I try to keep some in my fridge at all times for iced tea or cocktails. Here’s how you make it, if you don’t know already:
Simple syrup is made by heating equal parts water and sugar on the stove until all the sugar is dissolved, about three minutes over medium heat. For two cups of syrup, I combined one cup of water and one cup of sugar in a pot on the stove. Allow to cool completely before use. Simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.
If you are making simple syrup fresh for the recipe instead of using some you have on hand, you can add the mint leaves to the syrup so the mint flavor steeps into the syrup. Or you could just toss the mint in with the rest of the ingredients, like I did. I really like the little flecks of green they left in the granita against the bright red of the cherry.
Remove stems and pits from cherries. You can use a small knife if you’re a masochist, or do what I did and buy one of these guys from Bed Bath & Beyond. Combine fruit, syrup, lime juice, Sake (if using), mint (if you didn’t steep it in your syrup), and salt in a blender and blend until liquified. Pour liquid into a shallow casserole dish and put it in the freezer. Set the timer for an hour. When an hour is up, scrape the freezing granita with a fork, breaking up all the ice crystals. Put the granita back in the freezer and set the timer for a half hour. Keep scraping the granita and breaking up the ice crystals every half hour until it’s got the texture of a finely shaved ice. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately.
Note: The more granita you make, the longer it will take to freeze. Mine took most of the afternoon. Once it’s made you can freeze it for two-ish weeks. The texture will be more icy and less fine the longer it’s kept, so I recommend eating it sooner rather than later. As if you’d be able to resist.