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on display

Recipe: honeydew granita

In summer I hear the constant zoom of hummingbirds all around the house. The “yard” is dotted with wildflower colors that we can take absolutely no credit for. After the sun has set and our second wave of pink clouds has faded to the west, shouts and laughter of the neighborhood kids continue to ride the trickle of cool night air climbing in through our open windows. On a few summer nights each year, a mysterious fleshy pod lies in wait for nightfall. Over the course of a few hours, this almost alien bud opens 6-8 inches across and releases a beautiful fragrance. By early morning, the Queen of the Night (aka night-blooming cereus or Epiphyllum oxypetalum) blossom will close and wilt. It is a One Night Only! kind of deal.

My grandmother gave me the cuttings to start this plant when we moved into this, our first house and I’ve been enjoying the flowers since 2007. Each year, the plant produces more buds. So far this summer, we have five (it’s still a youngish plant, so five is pretty good). One is opening in our great room right now as I type. It is considered good luck when a blossom opens, but more than that – it is extraordinary. I’ve documented the blooms before, but it’s something else to experience it in person. The timing worked out such that we made a little party of it Friday night.

i guess it was a sizable party

at 1:30am (the bud is just one day behind)

flowers that jason and heather’s kids picked for me (so sweet)

Compared to the last two blossoms from the previous week, this one sure took its time opening up. Maybe it was shy with all of those people around? After a dessert of chocolate espresso pecan pie, lime cheesecake with blackberry sauce, a lovely apricot frangipane tart that Marianne brought, coffee and tea – we piled back inside for some Wii Sports smackdown! As most of my friends know, I like to serve multiple desserts. Sometimes I’ll forget one. When I opened the freezer to grab some ice I realized I hadn’t broken out the granita.

honeydew, to be exact

cut into chunks

The timing was perfect though. We passed tiny glasses stuffed with light green crystals of fruity granita around – just enough to refresh without making anyone feel too heavy. I love granitas in summer. Nichole asked if the recipe was on my blog and I replied, “I’m going to blog it soon.” Erin’s eyes sparkled as she smiled at me – how many times has she heard me say that at dinner?

juice a lime

a little tartness to bring out the sweet

I wish I could claim that all of the fruits and vegetables I purchase are perfectly ripe, sweet, and whatever they are supposed to be. The truth is that I don’t have the luxury to casually shop for ingredients. When I go into town, it is a search and destroy mission – my time is packed to the hilt. That’s how I roll. This honeydew melon was the best I could select, and even so it was a little underwhelming when I tasted it.

some sugar to spunk it up

making good use of my blender this summer (hellooooo piña colada!)

The melon was more fleshy than fruity. I just didn’t know how it would turn out. After blending the hell out of everything, I strained the purée. I’m a bit of a nut about the color green. I really like green. It’s not even my favorite color (blue is my favorite color), but pretty shades of green mesmerize me.

beautiful bright green slurry

straining out solids

Once the fleshy bits were discarded, the remaining juice was more like honeydew. It was still a little on the flat side, but I knew once it was frozen it would taste better. I don’t know why freezing does this, but all of the granitas and custards and sorbets that I make have a more lively flavor when they are frozen.

pour the liquid into a pan for freezing

my favorite part: scrape scrape

The simplicity of a granita resonates with me in summer. In my world, ice cream is too heavy and sorbets are too sweet – both leave me wanting for a glass of water. Tiny flakes of fruit-flavored ice are elegant, simple, and refreshing. Added bonus: no special equipment required! A granita is just the treat I want in warm weather. You can booze it up a little by drizzling liqueur of your choice over the granita (don’t add booze to the liquid, it won’t “ice” properly).

summer living

Honeydew Granita
[print recipe]
from Group Recipes

2 tbsps lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
4 tbsps sugar
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups honeydew melon, cut into cubes (I used 1 melon, de-seeded and rind removed)

Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth (about a minute). Strain the purée through a sieve set over a bowl. Be sure not to push the pulp through the sieve – let gravity do her work and gently move the pulp around to let the liquid find its way through. Pour the liquid (about 4 cups) into a baking dish and place in the freezer. After an hour, start scraping the ice with a fork. Repeat every 20 minutes until all of the ice is scraped. Serves 8-12.

26 nibbles at “on display”

  1. Memoria says:

    Thesse granite (<- no, not the material you find on kitchen counters LOL!; I mean the plural form of "granita") look amazing!! Wow. Beautiful color.

  2. Serene says:

    Wow, this is beautiful, but really, what blew me off my chair tonight were the pictures at — I’ve never seen anything like them. Brava!

  3. Wei-Wei says:

    What a lovely colour! I was eating some melon just now, it would be incredibly refreshing as granita.


  4. Rosa says:

    That granita must be divine and so refreshing! I love that last shot.



  5. newlywed says:

    I bet that a little grated ginger or some mint would be good in that as well.

  6. Nancy says:

    Wow! What an amazing flower and your pictures are so beautiful here and on your photo blog! I love the granita pictures too, makes me want to go make some right now. You are such a gifted photographer!

  7. Cooking in Mexico says:

    These look so refreshing for our hot summer days. I can see using this same recipe for cantaloupe and watermelon.I like that it is made with a minimum of sugar. Lovely colors.


  8. Fiona says:

    Excellent. I love green (it’s the baby’s favorite, though mine is blue, like you), and I think there’s something about green foods that feels light and cool (lettuce? Limes? Avocado? Ok, not so much on the last one.).

    Last night I made Vietnamese coffee ice cream from DL’s book, but perhaps tonight should be a granita night…

  9. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand says:

    Oh how beautiful! And I assume you never make the mistake I make, which is to forget to scrape after the first one or two rounds. Then the granita turns to granite, and you have to start over. But you’ve inspired me to try again.

  10. Shoshanna says:

    Jen, do you think cantaloupe would work okay as well?

  11. chelle says:

    hi there, been a avid silent reader. ;) just wanted to comment cos i know that flower!!! i have that in my yard too. i remember that once, when i was young, my dad once made us all wait up just to see that special flower bloom! we even took pictures too. (: (: (: memories oh memories. those were the days.

  12. Nicola says:

    I don’t like melon. But I love your photos and descriptions so much that I read the whole post! LOL

  13. Dgrub says:

    A perfect use for everything from cantaloupe to water melon.

  14. Jenny says:

    I love the last pic of the granita. I know it’s not easy to actually get a picture of it before it melts. I’ve tried:( Great post!

  15. Carolyn Jung says:

    This would be such a refreshing juice all on its own. But even better in a frozen state where you get those lovely icy crystals that melt on your tongue.

  16. Joy says:

    I love honeydew. I could go for some right now. BTW I love, love your images. They are simply beautiful.

  17. Ruth Ann says:

    The Queen of the Night flower is amazing! I have never seen one before and didn’t even know they existed. How cool to wait for the elusive blooms.
    The granita looks really cool and refreshing. Honey dew melon sounds refreshing in summer.

  18. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    This looks amazing! We aren’t quite to honeydew time out here, but I’ll hold on to it until then. I love your comment about “I’ll blog about it soon”. That’s what I tell people who ask for my recipes, and I have every intention of doing it the very next day, but time is not my friend these days!

  19. Sharlene says:

    Oh my goodness you just made me realize that I have yet to eat a fresh whole honeydew this season! I’ve been so obsessed with watermelon I have completely neglected honeydew. I’ll have to change that. This recipe looks fabulously fresh and easy to make. I haven’t made a granita before but am quite excited to try! And the bud is gorgeous. The mystery makes it even more beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Mrs Ergül says:

    Wow! I love the last photo! The lines are just great. I am sorry about the underwhelming flavour of the fruit which is apparent when you showed the cut up fruit. Better luck next time Jen!


  21. jenyu says:

    You guys can absolutely do this with other melons (cantaloupe or watermelon)! Fantastic and refreshing.

    newlywed – oh, I think you could add all manner of extra flavors to this and it would be lovely.

    Fiona – there is always a place for granita ;)

    Tamar – ha ha, I’ve done it before ;) I just let it all melt and then refreeze.

    Shoshanna – absolutely!

    Chelle – how cool! I’m glad some folks recognize it.

    Jenny – I basically set up EVERYTHING in the shot first and when I was ready to take a picture, pulled the granita out of the freezer, filled the glasses, and click :)

  22. Nicola says:

    Hey, Jenyu, check out this blog Indian Food Rocks – with its Queen of the night flower!

  23. ally says:

    Love the Granita recipes…! i want to try it! do you think it can be done with Watermelon?

  24. ally says:

    doh! just read your comment! gonna try it!

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