Enough with the melon balls

Watermelons are large.

Maybe that doesn’t rank as the deepest insight anyone’s ever had about food – but hey, I’m new at this whole food blogging thing.

And as much as we like watermelon, getting through a whole one before it starts to get a little dry-looking and unappealing is more than the two of us can do. Of course, throwing it away is not an option – nor is feeding it to the worms. It’s human food.

So, after we’d had our fill of watermelon last week, I decided to make some watermelon-yuzu juice. A bit of that ended up in cocktails; and the rest, as granita.

In case you’ve never tried it, yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. It is distinctive, aromatic, and adds a bright note to everything it touches – and in Japan, it touches a lot:

  • Yuzu kosho, a paste made with ground chilies and yuzu zest (this stuff rocks),
  • Ponzu shoyu, a soy and citrus sauce,
  • Yuzu tea, a tea made from yuzu zest and honey,
  • Alcoholic drinks like yuzu sours and yuzu chuhai,
  • Yuzu vinegar… and lots more.

It’s one of the flavors that we miss most from Japan, hence the little yuzu tree on the balcony (the source of the yuzu juice in this recipe) – and, I can’t recommend the ingredient enough. Just one tablespoon of yuzu juice completely changed the flavor of the cocktails and the granita, giving them a refreshing acidity and a little taste of Japan.

Watermelon-yuzu granita

Watermelon-yuzu cocktail and granita

Ingredients

  • 8 cups watermelon, seeds and all, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed yuzu juice (can substitute with lime juice)
  • 2 tsp sugar (or to taste) — optional
  • 1 oz whiskey — totally optional

Directions

Watermelon-yuzu cocktail

Something to sip on while making granita

  • Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend at the highest setting for a minute or two.
  • Some people pour the juice through a sieve to remove the pulp. Don’t do that. The pulp gives the juice a rich mouthfeel.
  • Pour yourself a glass, and add a jigger of whiskey if you are so inclined.
  • Place the remainder of the juice in a the largest baking dish you have that will fit in your freezer. The bigger the pan, the less time the granita will take to prepare.
  • Every 30 minutes or so, take the baking dish out of the freezer and use a fork to scrape the edges and break up the crystals.
  • When all the liquid is frozen, break it up with a fork one more time, cover the baking dish, and put it back in the freezer. Note getting to this point can take up to 4 or 5 hours, depending on the size of the baking dish.

The watermelon that was threatening to go bad will now keep for several weeks, and makes a light, refreshing dessert.