I didn’t get to enjoy this treat much when I was a kid. Once I got a home with a yard large enough, I planted a sour cherry tree just so I could have it when I wanted. That took care of that!
Greek hospitality is nothing without a hefty dose of offered sweets, and one of the most traditional sweets to offer are “spoon sweets”. As the name implies, these are sweets, usually preserved fruits, placed on a spoon. They are served with a glass of water, and after the guest eats the piece of fruit off of the spoon, the remaining syrup is swirled into the water as a nice addition of flavor.
My favorite is to just put the cherries and syrup directly in an ice cold glass of water, which makes a drink called Vissinada (vee-see-NAH-thah). It’s a perfect refresher on a hot summer day with a hint of classic cherry pie flavor. Try a little drizzle with a couple of cherries in a glass of brandy for a winter evening warm up! This also tastes amazing as a topper for Greek Yogurt, or even on pancakes and waffles. It’s seriously easy to make, and just think, you don’t have to wait for company to come to enjoy it!
Greek Sour Cherry 'Spoon Sweet' (Vissino Glyko Koutaliou) Recipe
This process takes a couple of days to complete because the cherries need to macerate in the sugar. You could even spread out the process over a few days if you don’t have time two days in a row.
- 1 pound sour, pie-type cherries (fresh, frozen, or canned with all juices reserved), pitted
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup water
If starting with fresh cherries, you will need to pit them. I have found that the best way is to place the cherry in the pitter so that the pit will be pushed out of the stem end. This allows for the pit to come out cleanly without flesh stuck to it. Even if you are starting with frozen or canned cherries, you will want to check them over for any pits that may have been missed. Be sure that if you use canned, that they are just cherries and not cherry pie filling.
Place all the ingredients into a deep sauce pot and mix gently until everything is combined and the sugar is dissolved. Cover the pot and let sit overnight in the refrigerator to allow for the juices to be pulled from the fruit and sugar to move in to the cherries. The cherries can remain in the refrigerator for a few days if you don’t have time to finish up the next day.
When you are ready to process the cherries, uncover the pot and bring the contents just to a boil, then reduce the heat enough to maintain a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally to make sure the cherries don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch. Continue to cook until the juices are cooked down until they are a thick syrup. There is no real set point, but you want it to be at a consistency where it will coat a spoon and your finger will leave a trail in the juices when poured on a plate. Remember that it will continue to thicken after it cools, and that you can always cook it down more if you realize it’s too watery.
Normally, the village women would just store these in jars in a dark cupboard and pull out the sweets when needed. This was before refrigerators, and since the cherries would be cooked down, spoilage was not usually an issue. However, if you are not comfortable with this, you can always keep the jar in the refrigerator. Enjoy!