A wonderful way of enjoying watermelon is to make Italian Ice. Sometimes the watermelon is just to much to eat. The first of December I received a large wonderful tasting watermelon from my share of the local CSA farm. I still had some left from the Sugar Baby watermelon from the week before. The kids were still trying to finish that one off. To keep from wasting this very ripe melon, the idea came to me that I should make Italian Ice out of it. At first I tried to make it in my Cuisinart ice cream maker but it turned out more like a slushy. To freeze it more I put in a square baking pan to place in the freezer. At the point all it needed was a stir every hour until it was smooth and frozen. After that I put it in a half gallon plastic container to store in the freezer. I continued to make two more pans that night.
I saved some of the seeds from the watermelon because it was an heirloom plant. Boy did it have the seeds but it was so sweet and worth the time to pick the seeds out to use in Italian Ice. In the end I had three half gallon containers using ¾ of the melon. The kids still had plenty of the fresh watermelon to eat that week. There is still some in the freezer and we enjoyed it as a dessert all through the Holidays. The dark pink color with a piece of fresh mint made a pretty dessert after a big meal.
In order to keep the ice from turning into a giant ice cube when you store it, you have to add a couple of tablespoons of liquor or wine when you mix in the sugar syrup. I had some Vodka that I use for making my own vanilla. It is a small amount so it is OK for the kids. Watermelon Ice is also good in adult drinks. It is good made with Rum, Vodka or Marsala for a summertime cooler.
Moreover, Italian Ice makes a good dessert for those who are on a restricted diet. Because the sugar syrup can be substituted with calorie free sweeteners to your taste. Many fruits and juices can be made into Italian Ice. There are many recipes on the internet for making watermelon ice. I went with the traditional recipe that I remember from my childhood.
Traditional Watermelon Italian Ice
- 8 cups of pureed seedless watermelon
- 1 cup of simple syrup
- 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of Vodka
- To make the simple syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
Mix sugar and water in a small sauce pan and cook until the sugar is dissolved. This makes one cup of simple syrup.
You can mash or puree the watermelon after you remove the seed. To puree use a food processor or blender in small batches. Mix watermelon puree, simple syrup, lemon juice, and Vodka in a large blow. Mix completely. If you are going to use an ice cream maker you need to chill the mixture for a couple of hours first. This makes a nice slushy texture. Or you can pour the mixture in a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan and place in the freezer. Stir every hour until set. It takes several hours to do this. I forgot one batch and it was in the freezer all night until I remembered it was there. I just let it set out for a little while until it soften and stirred it putting it back in the freezer. I only had to stir it one more time before I put in the storage container.
This recipe can be divided in half for a smaller batch.