raspberry crushed ice

Among frozen summer desserts, granitas are a hard sell, not matter how you rename them. A coarse, grainy sorbet, they’re the shaved ice of the Italian food world. Sure, they’re insanely refreshing, require no churning and are probably the kind of thing you ought to be cooling off with on a very hot day, but who’d choose them over hot fudge sundae cakes, toasted marshmallow milkshakes, saltine crack ice cream sandwiches or key lime pie popsicles? Nobody we’re going to be friends with, for sure.

can't stop won't stop buying too much at the greenmarket
what you'll need

Except, my friend Ang, who freely admits that she’s not a dessert person — and is therefore inherently suspect, I know — makes them all the time and every time she does I wonder why I don’t more often. We were halfway out the door after her crab boil last weekend with two almost melting down children* when she insisted I stop to at least try the golden raspberry granita she’d made and it was so good, I kind of wanted to run away with it.

blending golden raspberries

blended with sugar water
into the freezer, which is never this clean
when half frozen, start raking

What it had that so many lack was intensity. This was not flecks of fruit juice-flavored ice, this was a crushed popsicle. And sure enough, Ang said she just blended the berries with a little water to loosen them and a small amount of sugar to taste. And there I was, having recently renewed my 18-year agreement to forego all sorts of personal comforts, conveniences and sleep to devote myself to the upbringing a second child and pretty much the last person who should be making anything from scratch these days thinking even I might be able to pull it off.

blackberry granita
all raked and glittery

It only took 8 days. Well, 8 days and 3 hours but believe me, it was worth it. It’s so much better than you can even imagine it will taste. If you’re not a fan of very sweet desserts, this is perfect, as you can adjust it any level of austerity. If you, like me, are unusually bothered by seeds in raspberry and blackberry desserts, you’re going to love how unnoticeable they are here. And if you, like me, do not currently have a lifestyle that allows you to attend to the freezer, it’s totally fine if you let it go too long and need to let your ice block melt and start again when you have more time. Granitas are forgiving. And I don’t think you’re going to find one more gorgeous or robust celebration of summer berries anywhere else in your freezer.

raspberry granita
raspberry granita

* sidebar: it has occurred to me that there will be a time, probably soon, when both of our offspring will be crying at the same time. I am preparing my bunker for the occasion as we speak.

One year ago: Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Bourbon Slush Punch
Two years ago: Banana Nutella and Salted Pistachio Popsicles and Charred Corn Crepes
Three years ago: Pink Lemonade Bars and Charred Pepper Steak Sauce
Four years ago: Corn Buttermilk and Chive Popovers and Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey
Five years ago: Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin, Summer Succotash with Bacon and Croutons and Nectarine Brown Butter Buckle
Six years ago: Peach and Creme Fraiche Pie and Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons
Seven years ago: Nectarine Mascarpone and Gingersnap Tart and Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Eight years ago: Ratatouille’s Ratatouille and Red Bean Chili

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Fried Egg Salad and Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Biscuits
1.5 Years Ago: Warm Lentil and Potato Salad and Homemade Dulce de Leche
2.5 Years Ago: Potato Chip Cookies and Cheddar Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
3.5 Years Ago: Pasta and White Beans with Garlic-Rosemary Oil and Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon

Raspberry Crushed Ice

As you can see above, I went a little overboard in my attempt to celebrate summer raspberries, intending to make a 1/3 batch with red, golden and black raspberries but then the black raspberries went bad and I couldn’t get them again because this is real life so I used blackberries instead and unsurprisingly, they’re delicious here too. For reasons a food scientist (or just a scientist) will better explain, I find that frozen desserts (popsicles, this, etc.) get a better texture when you start with a simple syrup, however, I cannot be bothered to heat and cool simple syrup, not when I can simply add sugar to water and let it sit for 15 minutes to dissolve and not require cooling. (Thank you, Alice Medrich for this tip.) That said, this is not a “true” simple syrup (which are 1:1 sugar and water); here we use a little more water to help thin the berries enough to make them freeze with an icy texture. The sweetness level here is on the tart side, but you could make it even more tart by using 6 tablespoons sugar instead. You might try your mixture and adjust the sweetness to the sweetness of your berries, which will vary, but keep in mind that desserts taste less sweet once frozen.

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Stir water and sugar together in a glass or bowl and let sit 15 minutes. Stir again thoroughly; sugar should have dissolved. In a blender, combine this sugar water, berries and lemon and run until smooth. Pour into a large baking dish; keeping the thickness of the puddle shallow means your dessert will be finished more quickly. After about an hour — freezing time will vary by freezer temperature and puddle depth — the mixture should be half-frozen. Stir with a fork, scraping the surface and out to the corners to break up the ice, forming coarse glittery crystals. Return to the freezer and repeat this process every 30 minutes for another hour or two, until the mixture is fully frozen in flakes. To serve, scoop into glasses.

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78 comments on raspberry crushed ice

  1. In the past, I’ve eschewed granitas for the very reasons you’ve outlined. I’d make and eat ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and popsicles before considering a granita. You and Ang are helping me see granitas in a new light. These sound so simple to make and look so delicious!

  2. Refreshing and sweet. Lovely. Can’t wait to give it a whirl. Just discovered golden raspberries myself at at roadside stand in Medina, NY. 3 pints for 11.25, but I thought that was cheap considering how long it takes to pick raspberries. Thought the golden ones were sweeten than the red. Thanks!

  3. JP

    Just picked a bunch of mulberries from our tree at preschool (we have this tree for the leaves to feed the silkworms that are part of our curriculum each school year and I am the only teacher that goes back to school to pick the berries!) and I think this would be the perfect thing to use them in- thanks for the recipe and so glad we still have some summer left to enjoy it!

  4. Maggie

    I’ve never posted before but just have to say, I’m impressed! I had my second child on June 19th and have been doing light cooking to get us through meals and such but taking pictures and writing about it after is hugely impressive one month in!

  5. The golden raspberries are so beautiful! I never know the difference between blackberries and black raspberries. Also, I think such a derivative of a popsicle would be a good distraction for the one offspring while the other is crying- you know, to prevent the both-at-once sitch. :)

  6. What a beautiful dessert!! Perfect for a dinner party :-)

    Also, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been LOVING your all-butter pie crust. I’ve been making my husband a pie a week this summer, and have used your crust recipe every time. I’ve also made your strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe, and today I’m making your chocolate pudding pie recipe!! Needless to say, my husband is a happy man!!

  7. Haha you are so right about granitas! They seem like a good idea, because they are so pretty and cooling and healthier than other summer treats, but who really wants to eat them when push comes to shove? Knowing you are on the same track that I’m on makes me look at this recipe twice. It sounds (and looks) really good, so I’ll trust you that it’s worth it :) Thanks for sharing!
    xx Lane

  8. Susan

    Don’t you just love black raspberries! I have resorted to picking them roadside, when I find them, because they never appear at the farmers mkt. here. I always ask and have occasionally been told they sold our just moments before. Yeah, really? I was there moments before and they weren’t. Really gripes me out!
    Anyway, I’ve made wonderful jam with crushed almonds with them but never thought of using them in a granite which I now imagine is wonderful. Going roadside this weekend just to try it!

  9. deb

    In advance — Yes! Once frozen and scraped into flecks, you can keep it in a container as long as you’d keep anything else — popsicles, sorbet, etc. You’ll probably want to break it up a little again before serving with a fork.

    Re, raspberries — I’m totally convinced that the golden ones have better flavor than the red or the black, blasphemous as that sounds. I always think they’ll be mild, the way large yellow tomatoes can be milder than red, or yellow watermelon is milder, etc. But they’re not. I don’t think I’ve had a bad one. I always buy the black ones when I see them, but they’re usually the softest and last the least long. Serves me right for not eating them on the way home.

    Btw, if any of you find yourselves on the North Fork this summer (sadly, we will not be), Oysterponds Berry Farms in Orient is amazing, the best raspberries in any shade that we’ve had. (Here’s one of the many trays we bought last summer while staying in Orient.)

  10. Debby

    Firstly, I think the fact that you didn’t immediately stop posting new recipes for the next five years or so is utterly amazing.

    I do granitas with watermelon. We buy a lot of watermelon each summer and when we bring home a new one, with just a little left of the old, I turn the old one into granita. Puree, sweeten to taste, and a little lemon juice to pick it up. Easy. cooling, and wonderful to look forward to.

    Also, I just made your squash casserole and it’s awesome.

  11. I’ve recently been reminded how much I love granita (with a punchy grapefruit-Campari version which basically simultaneously satisfies my desire for espresso and dessert after dinner).

    Also, if you forget to scrape it and you don’t want to melt it down and refreeze, you can throw it in the blender or food processor. Slightly smoother texture than the fork-scraping method.

    Also, I love golden raspberries!

  12. Looks incredible! For those of us who would want to make this a little less virtuously for a 5 pm treat, what sort of alcohol may work well to incorporate into these?

  13. Matt

    Rather than doing the stir-freeze-remove-stir-repeat thing, could you just use an ice cream maker? Any reason that wouldn’t work?

  14. deb

    Sugar alternatives — I don’t see why one wouldn’t work here.

    Honey instead of sugar — I’d expect this to work just fine, too.

    No sugar — I suppose one could, but it would be very tart. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think it would taste like dessert.

    Booze — Perhaps some chambourd?

    Blender — I have (mumbles because there’s so much ink spilled over them and I just bought it because I liked the 7-year warranty after having a series of junky ones that broke after their 1-year warranties expired) a Vita-Mix. However, it is pretty great as a blender.

  15. Sarah

    I love granitas! But I also love dessert, so my trick to incorporating them into a summer get-together is to serve them as drinks. When my guests arrive sweltering from the heat and I know that my little window air conditioner is not going to last, I make sure they have a granita in hand soon after coming through the door. It all started with David Lebovitz’s mojita granita, but I have turned a variety of cocktails (and just wine or beer) successfully into a granita. Most recently I tried a bloody mary granita for brunch and it was a raging success.

  16. Marcia

    So sorry you won’t be on the North Fork this summer . Tell Jacob that they continue to restore the old fire boat. Next summer when you do come, the lovely ginger haired Anna will be able to eat both berries and sand ! Fun.

  17. Ang

    Thanks for the shout-out! The only other thing I add is lemon juice (Meyer, if available). It balances out the wee bit of sugar for my non-existent sweet tooth. ;)

  18. Dahlink

    I still remember a Christmas card from friends who had just had their baby daughter and already had a toddler son. The mother wrote that when she was home with them she realized that she was outnumbered, so when they cried, she cried.

  19. I love tart! I think that is the Italian in me — I haven’t made a granita in years and I’ve seen granitas and semifreddos with basil and rosemary. I really didn’t study the recipe but doesn’t it sound interesting and refreshing? I think a coffee based granita is what I need right now!! I think a quick pick me up is necessary. Thank you for the inspiration — I’ll look and see what fruit is available at the farmers market.

  20. Angela

    You will definitely have times where both children are crying, but divide and conquer works for us. It looks like one could use an ice-cream attachment for a Kitchenaid, but I guess it wouldn’t be a granita then.

  21. Dennie Raviv

    Where did comments 34 and 40 pop out from. I am sure glad I don’t need their services. Keep up the fabulous work Deb. I raised 2 children and worked and enjoyed every precious minute.

  22. Yeah, odd. I’ve never seen spam here before. Looks great! The first time my daughter tried ice cream, she said, “FAVORITE!” I’m sure she’d love this too, that little fruit-monger.

  23. Carol

    What did you use for glasses in the photo? Rocks glasses or Double Old Fashioned? It looks so lovely. I’d like to duplicate to serve the granita in. Yummy dessert.

  24. Naomi

    Would you adjust the sugar (or anything else) if using blueberries instead of raspberries? I have more blueberries than I know what to do with!

  25. deb

    Previous granitas — Forgot to mention the two in the archives, a delicate lemon-mint one and a completely obsessively good espresso version, imitating the one we had in Rome. With whipped cream.

    Matt — Missed your comment yesterday. If you make this in an ice cream maker, it would be more of an intense sorbet. Not a bad thing, but smooth. The hallmark of granitas is the crunchy icy effect from raking the mixture as it freezes.

    The glasses — Are a bit fancy, they’re Iitala Aarne either whiskey or martini glasses. We registered for crystal from the brand when we got married and some have even survived the decade!

    Marcia — Aww, thanks. I owe you an email (talking about those Sang Lee tomatoes again today on IG!). And I’m sure we’ll swing through for a day, we just couldn’t find a house worth renting. :(

    Spam — Oh yes, this site gets a lot and in particular, a weird avalanche of “spellcaster” spam in the last six months I can’t seem to block. Anyway, I usually weed them out when I go through comments so most people don’t see them, but these days, it often takes me more than a day to respond so some linger more than usual. Babies! They mess up everything. :)

  26. Janelle F

    You won’t regret your vitamix!! I have had mine for 15 years, and have only had to replace the container after 10. Love it.

  27. Aww back, Deb.. We have been discovered, when someone takes an an Inn that
    Has been around for 150 years, Slaps on a coat of paint, and raises the prices 500% .. Well, I imagine that is happening with rentals too. Thought of you when I bought berries today.. I might need a raspberry mortgage. Most of them don’t even make it home.

  28. Monica

    Granitas are delicious! And I don’t know why so many people think desserts that are just made with fruit aren’t exciting. I have vivid memories of eating granitas in a small town in Italy–Polignano a Mare, in the Puglia region–that are so connected with my idea of a perfect summer night. There was something wonderful about the flavor, like the most delicious ripe fruit but better, because it was more intense and also cold and refreshing for a hot evening. Thank you for this recipe, Deb!

  29. Mai

    Mmmm granitas are awesome! And this is why you toss in some brandy or gin! Can leave it too long and the alcohol will still keep it half frozen instead of letting it freeze over. I’m going to have to get some raspberries soon!

  30. amy

    I think I might have to get some berries and make this next week when the kids are home. they all prefer sorbet to ice cream, and I think this ‘crushed up popsicle’ will be a hit

  31. Emily

    Food scientist here! (I couldn’t resist the call out.)

    Using a simple syrup in frozen dessert DOES make for a smoother texture than just tossing the sugar over the fruit. Dissolving the sugar into water fully hydrates the sugar. Sugar depresses the freezing point of water by holding onto water molecules and not allowing that water to freeze. This forms smaller ice crystals (resulting in a smoother texture) than just water.

    Placing the sugar directly on the fruit draws out the water from the fruit, resulting in a similarly depressed freezing point, but dryer fruit. The sugar also dissolves less consistently.

    These look lovely by the way. I made a watermelon granita earlier in the summer that I was less than impressed with. I think I’ll have to try it again with my favorite fruit: raspberries!

  32. bridgit

    So lovely. For a little while, our raspberry patch was producing almost 10 lbs a week, and I had the hardest time finding many recipes that called for more than a cup or so of berries. I certainly found ways to use them (coconut raspberry sorbet was certainly one, and pie, lots of pie) but this will be lovely too! And so easy. Thanks. And belated Mazel tov! Your newest little is so cute!

  33. Amy

    quick question: can i use frozen fruit? I went out of town before I could use some strawberries from the farmers’ market, and would love to use them in a non-cooked method. If so, can I use the berries raw/directly? Or dethaw them first? Thanks!

  34. Perfect summer treat, I got this recipe down and experimented with berries to my liking and it turned out to be raspberrical success. Thank you for sharing this. Will make it again when the kids soccer season is in.

  35. Stephanie

    My “bunker” when both cried at the same time was my bed and a book to read out loud. So often, we respond with panic about all the things that have to get done–and then it escalates. This was my way of pressing the pause button.

  36. Anne Waling

    I have often made this, and one note–though it does make for a grainier outcome, you can make this super-quick by using frozen raspberries and whirring with sugar in a processor/blender. Instant dessert for surprise company. Add a dash of lemon juice and you’re all set. But the syrup way is better. This is also great with champagne floated on top…

  37. Amy

    making this now. its going to be hard to save it until tomorrow night when we have friends over. I think its a good thing that I doubled the recipe!