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Lost Italian: Refreshing summer slushes to to help beat the heat

Fruit slushesMichael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 2
Fruit slushesMichael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

The recent heat wave has had us looking for refreshing ways to cool down, and one of my favorite means to unwind and beat the summer heat is with a boozy summer slush. This week we're sharing two updates on recipes from my mother, and now my freezer is stocked for the summer with containers of Tropical Summer Slush and Fresh Fruit Slushie.

Unlike Italian granita, another ice-based beverage which features lovely little chunks of flavored ice, the texture of a true slush should appear more like thin, layered slivers of ice. And, while granita requires that the mixture be raked with a fork several times throughout the freezing process, making a slush is a quick and simple affair.

There are two secrets that will help you achieve that oh-so-satisfying slushy result. First is the use of alcohol, which prevents the slush from freezing into a solid form and contributes to its signature shaved-ice texture.

You may choose to omit the alcohol, but as a result the slush will freeze into a solid form, so be sure to let it stand in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Next, use frozen juice concentrate instead of liquid juice, as it won't freeze solid and is far better in creating the slushiest consistency. We prefer concentrated citrus juices like orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit, but you can play around with the flavor to suit your taste.

I love the versatility of a slush, as you can add various ingredients to give them your own spin. Switch up the alcohol or juice flavors, and get creative by infusing the slush with fresh herbs like mint, thyme, rosemary or even basil, or spices like ginger, cinnamon and pepper.

Tropical Summer Slush was originally a brandy slush, but I use a combination of vodka and coconut rum instead to give it a more summery feel. This slush is not as sweet as the Fresh Fruit Slushie, thanks to the addition of two cups of freshly brewed black tea. I steep the tea with a thumb of ginger, which brings a lovely hint of spice to the slush.

The original recipe called for concentrated lemonade, but after playing around I now make it only with limeade, which isn't quite as sweet and works better with the ginger and coconut rum.

Fresh Fruit Slushie features limoncello and is filled with rejuvenating chunks of fresh fruit, chosen from whatever is in abundance at our local markets. Choose a variety of three fruits and look for types that freeze well, like berries, peaches, kiwi, mango, cherries and pineapple. This recipe calls for the addition of a can of lemon-lime soda or ginger ale, and I often use a diet version to curb the sweetness, or skip it altogether.

Both slushes yield about three quarts per batch and will keep in the freezer for at least a month. They are best enjoyed in moderation and with friends, who are sure to return for more.

Tropical Summer Slush

Makes about 3 quarts


2 cups sugar

5 cups water

3 bags black tea

2 cups water

1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled

12 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate

12 ounces frozen limeade

1 cup vodka (may also substitute 2 cups brandy, whiskey or your favorite liquor)

1 cup coconut rum

Fruit skewer to garnish


In a large pot, cook the sugar and 5 cups water over medium heat until dissolved, stirring occasionally; remove from burner and let cool.

In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil; remove pot from burner and add bags of black tea and the thumb of ginger. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes or until cool; remove and discard the ginger.

Add the frozen juices, vodka, rum and tea to the syrup and stir to combine. Pour into a plastic or glass container, cover and freeze overnight. Garnish with fresh fruit skewer and enjoy. Stores well in freezer for at least one month.

Fresh Fruit Slushie

Makes about 3 quarts


3 cups water

1 cup sugar

12 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate

12 ounces frozen lemonade or limeade

2 peaches, sliced

2 cups strawberries, sliced

1 to 2 cups blackberries

Juice and pulp of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups limoncello (optional)

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, whole if small or cut into ½-inch pieces

1 12-ounce can of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda (7-Up, Sprite, Squirt, diet versions may also be used for less sweetness)


In a medium or large pot, cook the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into a container, cover and freeze overnight before serving. If no alcohol is added the mixture will freeze solid, so let it stand for several hours in the refrigerator before serving. Stores well in freezer for at least one month.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 12-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//