The word "granite", not too soft and sweet for our ears, in Italy, on the contrary, will make a person freeze in anticipation of goodies. In the republic, the name Granita is dessert, which is crushed fragrant ice with sugar. It is often confused with sorbet or gelato, but it has a coarser and more crystalline texture. Although the consistency of granite can vary from city to city. For example, in Palermo (Palermo) it is as tender as that of ice cream. The sweet native of Sicily (Sicilia) perfectly quenches thirst, has an irresistible taste and is ideal for dealing with the summer heat. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to tell everything about this wonderful delicacy.
The origin of granite is usually attributed to the period of Arab domination in Sicily. It was the Arabs who brought the island a recipe for sharbat or sorbet - a frozen drink with fruit juice or rose water.
In Catania (Catania) and other cities of Sicily, snow was collected on the volcano Etna (Etna), in the mountains Peloritani (Peloritani), Iblei (Iblei), Nebrodi (Nebrodi). It was laid in special stone buildings called nivieri, which were in natural or artificial caves. Such structures can still be found on the island. In the summer they received ice, crushed it and covered with fruit syrup or flowers. This product survived to the 20th century with the name rattata, which means "grated."
In the XVI century, the method of preparation of sorbet has undergone significant changes. Sicilians began to use snow mixed with sea salt. Only now it was not a dessert ingredient, but a cooling component. The new tank was a wood vat with a zinc bucket in the center. The inner cavity was filled with salt snow. The frozen contents of the bucket were constantly mixed to prevent the formation of large ice crystals. Granite, prepared in this way, gradually replaced the rattata.
During the 20th century, the development of new technologies led to the replacement of hand-held devices with a mixture of snow and salt with special machines.
Since 2012, the city of Acireale has hosted the Nivarata festival, dedicated to the manual manufacturing of Sicilian granite. Its participants repeat the ancient method of making dessert using mountain snow. The festival is held annually in May and June. The winner is determined by taste according to the total assessment of the audience and the jury, consisting of prominent names of the "cold" industry.
Composition and serving
If you do not specify, then granite composition can be represented as a union of 3 components: water, sugar and flavorings. The latter are exclusively natural ingredients. Each variety of dessert has its own unique taste, but more on that later.
The sugar content in granite is approximately 20-25%, and acids - 0.5-1%. Unlike gelato and sorbet, the Sicilian delicacy is almost airless. It is very important that freezing occurs at a constant temperature and stirring. Otherwise, the water separates from the mass, turning into tasteless ice crystals.
Granite is served, as a rule, in transparent glass glasses. Traditionally, it is accompanied by fresh, crisp bread. Sicilian cuisine presents local buns made from yeast dough with eggs as a constant companion of dessert. Such pastries have a hemispherical shape, crowned with a ball on top.
Granita with a bun (granita câ brioscia) - a traditional breakfast of the inhabitants of the coastal areas of the island in the summer.
It is common practice in Sicilian bars to add lemon granite to tea, mineral water, and even beer to make a cool drink. Coffee granite combined with cold coffee creates the so-called mezzofreddo siciliano - an espresso substitute on hot summer days.
Do not be surprised if you are served granite in paper or plastic cups, which has already melted and looks more like a drink. It is often practiced in Italy in the summer to cool off during a walk.
Dessert, in which there is less or no sugar, can be offered between meals as an excellent “mouth cleaner” in order to fully enjoy different tastes.
Varieties by city
According to historical data, the first varieties of granite were with the taste of lemon, almond, chocolate and coffee. Dessert in eastern Sicily was fragrant with cinnamon, jasmine and goat-breeder (scursunera). And, although the last flower is no longer used as a flavor, the term scursunera still lives on. In Palermo, they call granite with jasmine and cinnamon.
Sometimes, to prepare an almond dessert, a small amount of bitter almonds is added to the bulk of nuts. This gives granite a more intense aroma.
In the city of Catania, especially in the Bronte municipality, granites with the taste of pistachios and almonds are widespread (this variation is complemented by a drop of hot coffee). Of the fruit varieties, sweets with black mulberry (mulberry fruit), peach, strawberries, tangerine and pineapple are popular.
In Messina (Messina) and on the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie) prefer lemon, strawberry, peach and coffee variations. Although the primacy of the podium is the so-called "chocolate granite", which is actually made from cocoa. The composition of the dessert in different cities is different. For example, granite from Messina has a slightly sweet taste, in a similar version from Syracuse sourness will prevail.
In Syracuse, granite is ubiquitous. It can be ordered in almost any bar. Despite the popularity of original flavors, the number of new flavors is constantly growing. Typical of Trapani is a dessert with jasmine and mulberry. Residents of the small coastal town of Favazzina in Reggio di Calabria fight summer heat with fig and prickly pear granite.
Sicilian varieties of granite with black mulberry and almond are on the list of food products of traditional Italian cuisine.
Lemon Granite Recipe
Granita di limone is a light dessert that is traditionally served in the best bars of Sicily. But if you do not have the opportunity to come to the island, then you can get acquainted with the Sicilian delicacy right in your kitchen. Of course, granite, cooked at home, differs from that obtained using special machines. But, nevertheless, the result of simple manipulations will be a fresh, thirst-quenching dessert, perfect for a summer evening.
- 500 ml of clean drinking water;
- 500 ml of natural lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed);
- 250 g of sugar;
- 1 lemon.
Stages of preparation:
- To obtain a more aromatic granite, you must "pickle" a lemon in water. Cut the fruit into 4 parts and lower it into the liquid for 1 hour.
- After removing the lemon slices, rub the zest on a fine grater and return it back to the water. Add sugar, mix well and heat over low heat until completely dissolved. It is important not to bring the mixture to a boil.
- Pour lemon juice into the cooled sweet solution, mix thoroughly.
- We transfer the mass to a suitable container and send it to the freezer. It is advisable to do all the manipulations in the morning, so that during the day every half an hour with a spatula to mix future granite (at the same time you can sleep peacefully at night).
- The next morning, we take out granite from the freezer half an hour before serving. When the ice begins to melt, use a mixer to whip the dessert to a velvety consistency.
Following some simple recommendations, you will be able to prepare a dessert that meets all the requirements of Sicilian traditional cuisine:
- For granites with an original flavor, Meyer's lemons are the best option. If you don’t have one, then the usual variety will do.
- Lemon juice, squeezed on its own, must be filtered through several layers of gauze.
- To make a dessert that tastes like mojito, you need to add a couple of mint leaves to get lemon juice.
- If for some reason a lemon does not suit you, then it is entirely possible to replace this component with your favorite fruits or berries.
- To give a special flavor to the Sicilian dessert, you can add a glass of vodka or gin to the mixture before freezing.
You can supplement the cooked granite with a fresh bun, as the Sicilians do, and enjoy an unsurpassed taste.
Calorie content and benefits
Surprisingly, despite the fact that granite is a dessert, people who follow a diet can enjoy it. The calorie content of the lemon lemon treat is only 77 kcal per 100 g. Calories are made up of:
- Proteins 0.1 g;
- Fats 0 g;
- Carbohydrates 20.6 g.
Granita di limone is rich in vitamin C and is the lowest-calorie dessert option.
Granite with other fillers contains:
- Strawberry - 120 kcal;
- Coffee with cream - 250 kcal;
- Almond - 230 kcal;
- Cucumber - 125 kcal;
- Mint - 115 kcal.
The almond delicacy due to the presence of nuts is rich in vitamins of groups B and E. The first of which regulate the activity of the nervous system, and the second is responsible for reproductive function. Almonds are an excellent source of mineral salts, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Granita, unlike ice cream, is an excellent choice for losing weight lovers of sweets and people suffering from milk intolerance. But do not forget that its carbohydrate composition is formed by pure sugar, so those who are sick with type II diabetes should not eat dessert.
The variety of tastes of dessert knows no bounds. Therefore, it is worth noting that each new component enriches granite with its useful properties.
On this weighty information about a light delicacy is fully exhausted. Love freshly, cook deliciously, travel whenever possible and remember: "Heat does not break bones. Heat requires granite!"