What a lovely surprise is to go for a walk in the city and find little treasures in your neighborhood. These little things keep our spirits high: I have passed this house so many times, but I never noticed that tree. My neighbors were collecting something. “Good afternoon, neighbor – is this a sour cherry tree,” I asked. “Yeah! This batch will make the perfect sour cherry juice,” she said.
And suddenly I realized that in every house I have lived, except this last one, there was always a sour cherry tree. My mom always prepared vissinada (a thick cherry juice) for the hot summer days. Sour cherry trees are not native in Greece but they are known to have been there from 300 BC, introduced here for cultivation.
Was it worth it? Definitely. The cherries are rich in minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Sour cherries are also rich in vitamin A and C, minerals that help with rheumatics. They are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and have zero preservatives.
For a healthy and refreshing drink, use as ingredients only the pure red ‘gems’ of the tree, with some sugar and cinnamon sticks.
Specifically: Remove sticks and seeds from the sour cherries, boil them with the same amount of sugar or another sweetener until the mass gets thick and remove the bubbles. When cold, add the juice of a lemon for each kilo of fruit.
Store the mixture in glass containers in the fridge. It lasts for a year and you can use it in many ways! You can make vissinada by adding some soda water and fresh mint leaves. It can be poured as a topping to kaymaki ice cream (it rocks!). Use it in any tea, cold or hot – it will produce a special flavor! Also, you can add it in smoothies and sorbets and ice cream!
It seems that this summer will be super-hot (Thank you, Climate Change!) but some homemade vissinada drink will save the day! I hope you will enjoy it in Greece!
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.