Almost everyone loves ice cream, it’s one of the best treats you can have on a blazing hot summer’s day. Sometimes it seems there are as many different flavors of ice cream as there are stars in the sky at night, from traditional vanilla to the really unusual green tea or pear with blue cheese. It’s sweet and it’s cream, and you’d think there’d be a flavor of ice cream to suit everyone’s tastes.
However, it is not always the case that we all scream for ice cream, at least not all the time. Maybe you can’t have dairy, or find most ice cream to be too sickly sweet.
If this sounds like you, then allow us to introduce you to… Italian Ice! This dairy free, flavored treat is similar to ice cream and may find its roots in Sicily. If you prefer a more refreshing alternative to ice cream then look no further.
What is Italian ice?
Italian ice, which you may sometimes see referred to as water ice, is made using the same process as ice cream. The ingredients, usually just water, ice, sugar and flavorings, are frozen as they are churned. Obviously the biggest difference between ice cream and Italian ice is the absence of cream. If you make Italian ice by simply flavoring shaved ice then you are not making Italian ice, you are making flavored shaved ice.
Italian ice is almost always fruit flavored, with lemon, lime cherry and blackberry probably being the most common flavors. Like most varieties of ice cream, the variety of flavors of Italian ice is constantly growing, and you may even find vanilla or chocolate flavored Italian ice, though in our opinion the creamier base of ice cream makes it better matched to these flavors than Italian Ice is.
The flavorings added to Italian Ice can be either natural or artificial, and sometimes Italian ice can even contain chunks of fresh frozen fruit.
The texture of Italian Ice is markedly different from the smooth, creamy texture of ice cream. Italian ice is often quite grainy, with the ground ice giving the dessert an almost gritty texture.
Though it is not definitively known, it is commonly thought that Italian ice is an alternate form of Granita, which was brought to the United States by immigrants coming from Italy.
Granita originated in Sicily and is thought to have originated as far back as the middle ages, and since those humble beginnings has now spread throughout the world. Granita differs from Italian ice as it has a much purer crystalline texture. If you visit Sicily, you will find that the Granita served there is free from artificial ingredients, and the fresh fruit flavours can vary depending on which fruits are in season when it is made.
So, now that you know all there is to know about Italian Ice, why not pay a visit to Picc’s Ice Cream and try all the delicious desserts we have on offer.