Strawberry-Balsamic Granita

Strawberry-Balsamic Granita

So, let’s say you accidentally found yourself with five pounds of strawberries. What would you make? When it’s oh, ten thousand degrees outside, and the very thought of turning on a burner—never mind the oven—makes you sweat uncontrollably? (If you’re a Facebook fan, you may have already answered this question.)

I made granita. Are you familiar with the word? It’s a fancy-shmancy way of saying “sorbet made without benefit of an ice cream maker.” I tossed my machine a few years ago—the only way to be spontaneous about using it was to keep the darn insert in the freezer, and it just took up too much space. So now I make granitas. The technique couldn’t be simpler: Puree ripe, really ripe, super-ripe fruit. Add a bit of sugar if, god forbid, the super-ripe fruit isn’t sweet enough. Strain, if you feel like impressing people. Add a touch of acid, either citrus juice or something else (in this case, I went with balsamic vinegar, which does wonderful things when paired with strawberries). Pour into a shallow bowl, and stick it in the freezer. Rake a fork across the top every so often, and big, luscious crystals will pile up. Put those into a bowl. Eat.

As for the other four pounds of berries? We ate them. Every last one.

Strawberry-Balsamic Granita
Inspired by David Lebovitz

1 pound fresh, ripe strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced thickly
Up to 1/4 cup sugar (if they’re really ripe, you won’t need much. I used 2 tablespoons)
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a large bowl, stir together the strawberries and the sugar. Let that sit for a good hour, until the berries have released their juices and just looking at the bowl makes you want to dive right in.

Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and puree. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, pulse a few times to mix it in, and taste. If you’re not satisfied with the tart/sweet ratio, add the second tablespoon. Once you’re happy, that’s it—you’re ready to freeze.

If seeds offend, strain the mixture before pouring into a square baking dish. Pop it in the freezer, and after 30 minutes pull it out. Use a fork to rake the frozen edges inwards, and stick it back into the freezer. 30 minutes later, repeat. 30 minutes after that, do it again. At this point, my granita was still fairly soft, but frozen enough to eat—that’s what you see in the picture above. Let it freeze for another 30 minutes to an hour, then rake it one last time with that fork, and you’ll have something that looks more crystalline.

This stuff is crazy good, yo.