Willow and Lime Pain-Relieving Granita

Willow bark has a wonderful deep, dark, smoky flavor, but more excitingly it also contains salicin, a substance very similar to aspirin. Here I've combined it with lime in a uniquely flavored, pain-relieving granita - friends say it tastes like everything from Seville orange marmalade to Imperial Leather soap and even chorizo, so take your pick! The granita is slightly slower acting than popping a pill, but its effects should last longer, and it's gentler on the stomach.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 5 hr 45 min
  • Prep: 5 min
  • Inactive: 5 hr
  • Cook: 40 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

8 cups boiling water

1 1/3 ounces/40 g dried willow bark (Salix)

10 1/2 ounces/300 g sugar

2 tablespoons orange blossom water

Zest and juice of 3 limes

Directions

  1. Pour the water over the dried willow bark in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out the bark and return the liquid to the pot, simmering uncovered until reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 20 to 30 minutes. At this stage, the mixture will be intensely bitter, but do not let that faze you; sugar and limes can cover a multitude of sins.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, orange blossom water and lime juice and zest and let cool. Once cool, place in a covered ice-cream tray and freeze. 
  3. For adults, to relieve the pain of a headache, eat about 1/2 cup (an ice-cream-scoop-sized dose) up to 3 times a day. 
  4. Anyone who is allergic to aspirin or any other anti-inflammatory drug, or who suffers from an ulcer or has asthma, should not take willow bark. Do not take if you have been warned not to take aspirin by your doctor, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Children and adolescents under 16 years should not take willow bark either. If you are taking any other medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist first. 
  5. The granita will keep for up to 1 year in a freezer.