I was born & raised in Philadelphia. I LOVED my neighborhood! We never locked our doors. I was within walking distance of all of my friends yet had a huge yard where my dad had an enormous garden, cherry tree, apple tree, swimming pool and more. We had bats at night, snakes in the strawberry patch and the occasional surprise critter visit since we backed up to a wooded area. I loved it!
When you think of Philly, you think of The Liberty Bell, The Reading Terminal Market, Rocky, Cheese Steaks and Hoagies...right?? But right up there with all of those are soft pretzels and water ice....Oh water ice, how I love you! I have to say that water ice is at the top of my list when it comes to a dessert...actually any time of the year! If you have never had it you will be in for a treat!
25 years ago a now famous water ice company, started by a Philly fireman, opened their first and second shops not far from where I grew up...lucky for me their second shop was within a 15 minute walk from my house AND my friends and I walked right past it on the way home from high school! It was love at first bite for me! Recently I decided to try to make my own DIY Philadelphia Style Water Ice...I though it would be a fun project to do with the kids over the summer...and boy was I right about THAT!
In a small pot combine 1 cup of the water and your sugar. Heat just until the sugar melts and the liquid is clear. Stir occasionally until then. Remove the pot from the heat and add in the remainder of the water as well as the extract and the food coloring. Place your liquid into the bucket of your chilled ice cream maker bucket (I always keep at least one in my freezer, ready at a moments notice when the need for ice cream, sorbet and now water ice strikes) and churn until it becomes slushy-ish which should take about 20-25 minutes. Perfect water ice is slushy, with some of it turning to juice again along the sides, you scoop it up with a spoon and sometimes sip on it...its magical!
When you store your just made water ice - do NOT store it in your ice cream bucket - it will harden like a rock and take forever to thaw. Instead freeze it in mason jars (already per-portioned - a plus!) or a container. Prior to serving allow it to once again become slushy, stirring it up as it begins to thaw.
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