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Glyko Vyssino (Sour Cherries) and Vyssinada drink

Sour cherries (Prunus cerasus), is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus (cherries), native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. It is closely related to the wild cherry (P. avium), but has a fruit that is more acidic and so is useful primarily for cooking.   Wild cherries have been documented by  the Greeks as early as 300 BC.

sour cherries - vyssino


The taste is similar to cherries but as the name indicates, they are quite sour and cannot be eaten like a fruit.

The most difficult part is pitting the sour cherries and make sure to weat gloves as the juice may tint your fingers and will take a few days to fade away.


In Greece we make jam, glyko tou koutaliou, which is a fruit preserve also called spoon sweet, as well as a drink called vyssinada and vyssino liqueur.


Vyssinada is a drink made of sour cherries syrup.

To make vyssinada, wash and remove the stems and pits of the fruit and boil it with a small amount of water until soft.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When they can be handled, put them in a strainer and squeeze to extract their juice.  For every cup of juice you will add 1 cup of sugar and let them rest for 2 hours removing any froth that may form on top.  Then bring to a boil again removing the froth.  Lower heat and simmer until the syrup is ready.  Before the end add 1 tsp lemon juice for every cup of juice you have added and mix.  Store in sterilized bottles.

To serve, add about 2 cm vyssinada (depending on how sweet you want it add less or more)  in a glass and fill with iced water and a few ice cubes.

The spoon sweet is made almost the same way as making Cherry spoon sweet.

Glyko Vyssino (Sour Cherries)

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: about 45 minutes


  • 1 kilo fresh sour cherries
  • 1 kilo granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 – 4 fragrant geranium leaves or 1/2  tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tablepoon lemon juice


  1. Wash the cherries well.   Remove stems and pits (use pit remover, my mother used to do it with the back of a hair pin) carefully, keeping cherries intact. Be careful when removing because they stain the clothes and do not clean easily. Remove pit in a bowl with the half cup of water and collect juices which may drop.
  2. Place sour cherries in a sauce pan, covering each layer with sugar.
  3. Add the water and wash off the pits with any juice on them, drain and add over sugar.
  4. Leave them in the saucepan until the following day and if the sugar has not dissolved, mix it a few times until it does.
  5. Bring the cherries and sugar to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and skim off foam as it rises to the top with a slotted ladle.  When it cleans from the froth add the fragrant geranium leaves and simmer until the syrup thickens.
  6. After half an hour, test to see if the syrup is ready.    (See link below)
  7. Finally, add the lemon juice and allow to boil for another few seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down.
  8. When thoroughly cooled, place in airtight sterilized glass jars to store.



To serve, place 2-3 teaspoonfuls of the cherries and syrup on a small plate. Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet is always served with a glass of cold water.

Serve alone, with Greek coffee, or as a topping on yogurt, vanilla ice cream, on pana cotta, mahalebi, cheesecake, tarts, crepes, or use them to make icecreams or other desserts.

ice cream with cherries

If you liked this see other relevant posts:

Glyko Kerassi (Cherry Spoon Sweet)
Glyko Karpouzi (Water Melon)
Glyko Nerantzi (Bitter oranges)
Glyko Bergamonto (Bergamot)
Glyko Karydaki (green immature walnuts)

Glyko Kydoni me amygdala (Quince with almonds)
Glyko Kydoni me kastana (Quince with chestnuts)
Glyko Milo (Apples)


About Spoon sweets
How can we tell if the syrup is ready?
How to fix spoon sweets

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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1 Response

  1. Peter M

    Ahhh beautiful. This is the queen of Glyko Koutaliou. I like it on ice cream and Vyssinada makes the best summer drinks.