Visináda (βυσσινάδα) is one of the favorite beverages in Greece. It is made with the juice of sour cherries and sugar, cooked until it’s concentrated into a thick, deep purple syrup. Though sour cherries are not usually eaten raw, they taste just wonderful when cooked with sugar.
In my little village we have only wild sour cherry trees; I never found out who first cultivated them here but they must have loved this place. And even if you plant only one tree, in a few years you end up with a small wild sour cherry forest because they tend to expand like crazy. Though you need to pit twice the amount of the wild fruit for a recipe compared to cultivated sour cherries, the wild variety has a superb taste. Sour cherries can be found in farmer’s markets at the end of June and early July in Greece; in July and even August in more northern countries.
To enjoy visináda, pour in a glass, one part of syrup and four parts of ice cold water or club soda and fill with ice. Sour cherry syrup can also be used over ice cream and desserts or in cocktails for color and taste.
1kg sour cherries
1kg granulated sugar
2Tsps lemon juice
Wash the sour cherries in a colander, drain them and put them in a bowl. Press the sour cherries with a wooden spatula or by hand until they are all mashed. Put a fine sieve over a cooking pot, pour the mashed sour cherries in the sieve and press to get as much liquid, in the pot, as possible. Discard the sour cherry skin and stones left in the sieve.
Add the sugar to the cooking pot with the sour cherry juice (≤ 500gr) , add the lemon juice and bring to a boil. As soon as the sugar has dissolved, cook for further 5 min.
Pour the sour cherry syrup in sterilized bottles and, when they’ve cooled, store them in the fridge for several months.
Serve in tall glass, 1part (or to taste) of syrup and 4parts of ice cold water or club soda and ice.
Notice: 1kg of sour cherries, usually gives 450-500gr juice. If you get less than 400gr of juice just add water to reach the required amount.