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What is Italy's Summer Ice Dessert?

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  • What is Italy’s Summer Ice Dessert?

Discover the Refreshing Delight of Granita: Italy’s Summer Ice Dessert

You’ve got to try this refreshing ice dessert called granita, a staple during Italy’s hot summer months. It’s a smooth blend of fruit-flavored crushed ice and serves as a perfect alternative to gelato. Here’s everything you need to know about this delicious Italian treat.

Granita is made with just three simple ingredients: water, sugar, and fruit. The best gelaterie use only seasonal fruits to create the most flavorful granita. Classic flavors like coffee, almond, and lemon are always available. Watch Foodie Sisters in Italy, Benedetta and Valeria, show you how granita is made.

Granita vs. Cremolato

Granita and cremolato are both popular summer ice desserts in Italy. Both are made by blending water, sugar, and fruits, then freezing the mixture while stirring until it reaches the perfect consistency. The key difference lies in their texture: granita has coarser pieces of crushed fruit-flavored ice, giving it a crunchier bite, while cremolato is smoother and creamier. Both are typically served in large plastic cups and eaten with a spoon. For an extra treat, don’t forget to ask for panna (whipped cream) on top.

The Historical Roots of Granita

Did you know that granita is the ancestor of gelato? To trace its origins, we go back to the Middle Ages in Sicily. Snow collectors, called nivaroli, would gather snow from Mount Etna and store it in stone caves to maintain its low temperature. By stirring this ice with honey, Sicilians created a soft, creamy ice mixture, to which they would add fresh lemon or orange juice. This technique was used for centuries until the invention of modern appliances.

While granita remains a beloved dessert today, it also paved the way for the development of gelato. It took a few more centuries for granita to evolve into the gelato we know and love, but that’s a story for another time.

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