Elderflower Granita Recipe by Rory O'Connell


This recipe is one in a series from Rory as a pairing with our STABLE Summer 2024 Irish Linen Napkins.


For the granita use elderflower or fresh leaves such as Blackcurrant leaf, Mint, Lemon Balm, or Lemon Geranium.


This is a master recipe in that the leaf of choice, lemon verbena in this case, can be successfully replaced by others. The first time I made this recipe, I used blackcurrant leaves as in the leaves from a blackcurrant bush. For a few weeks in may, the leaves are highly scented and you end up with an ice that is pure white in colour,  but tasting intensely of blackcurrants. Fabulous.


Interestingly, the leaves of redcurrant or white currant bushes are not scented at all and not suitable for this recipe. If you have currant bushes in your garden, and as they will not be in fruit when you are making this recipe, in which case you may not be able to remember which bush is which, just pick a leaf off each bush, rub it between your fingers to release its aroma,and if it smells intensely of currant, then thats it.


Many other leaves such as spearmint, lemon balm and rose or lemon scented  geranium all work brilliantly. Elderflowers, though not a leaf but with a heady muscat flavoured scent, also work really well. As this is a granita we are expecting a slightly coarse, flaky and icy texture, so forget about your ice cream scoop here and just spoon it into pretty serving dishes. You will not need an ice cream machine here, though if you have one and freeze the mixture in the machine, it will then be a sorbet.


The recipe is simple but watch out for the subtleties involved, such as using cold water with the sugar when cooking the leaves to draw out their flavour and  allowing the syrup to cool completely before adding the lemon juice. The granita will keep for several weeks in the freezer but is considerably better when eaten as soon as possible after it has been frozen.


This granita of lemon verbena is good on its own but is even better when served with a splash of a dry sparkling wine. Serve as a light and refreshing dessert or as an equally light and refreshing starter on a scorching summers day.

Briefly explained

Make a syrup with the leaves, sugar and cold water.

Cool the syrup.

Add the lemon juice, mix, strain out the leaves and freeze.

The ingredients

Lemon verbena, a wonderful citrus scented herb is used to flavour many sweet dishes such as mousses, creams and ices. The sharp pointy leaves are intensely lemony and make an utterly refreshing ice. 

    Serves 6-8      

    3 handfuls of  elderflowers ( no leaves)

    225g white sugar

    600ml cold Water 

    3 lemons


    Place the flowers, sugar and cold water in a saucepan.Place over a moderate heat. Stir occasionally to encourage the sugar to dissolve and bring it to a simmer. Allow it to simmer gently for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it is completely cold.


    You will end up with a pale green syrup. Juice the lemons and add to the syrup and right before your eyes you will see the green tinge leaving your syrup. Strain out the flowers through a sieve and I usually press on the wilted flowers to extract as much flavour as I can.


    Place the strained syrup in a wide container and freeze until nearly set. Remove from the freezer and break up the ice with a fork. It will look like a slushy mess. Refreeze and repeat the process twice more, three times if you can bear it, and eventually you will end up with the distinctive shard like consistency of a granita. Refreeze covered until you are ready to serve it.


    I serve it in coloured  glasses or glass bowls, with a single relevant flower or leaf to decorate and a splash of chilled sparkling wine.

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