A healthy delicacy brought to you by Pontian Greeks

Greeks, who tend to be rather cynical as a nation of people with a long, winding history, have an old saying that goes something like this in English: “wherever you hear about a lot of cherries, keep a small basket”. This proverb means to express frustration about under delivered expectations, but in reality a cherry is an exquisite fruit with a sweet, yet sour and tart taste which never stands lower than expectations for anyone who savors it.

cherriesThere are two types of cultivated cherries, the sweet cherry, to which most cherry cultivars belong, and the sour cherry or “vyssino” as we call it. In Greece, we use both types of cherries to make delicious spoon sweets, while the pits, are used to enhance the flavor of various liquors and spirits.

Cherries are a good source of minerals and dietary fiber and they are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and copper.

Furthermore, cherries are rich in phytosterols, substances which don’t give energy and thus do not contribute to caloric intake, one cherry has only 4 calories. Research reveals that due to phytosterols, people who include the fruit as it is or in supplement form in their daily diet display lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Another important effect of cherries is that they significantly reduce mental fatigue, which proves to be very useful, especially for students during exams at the end of the school year, when cherries are in abundance due to seasonality.

In addition, a diet rich in cherries is suggested for anemia because of their high content of iron, while their detoxifying action is good for the liver, the gall bladder, the glandular system and the body in general, since all the fiber and organic acids they contain, make them act as super laxatives.

Cherries have been cultivated for thousands of years and ancient Greeks believed that they came from Asia Minor, the city of Cerasus in particular near the Black Sea. The English word cherry, comes from the classical Greek “κέρασος” through the Latin “cerasum”, meaning the name of its presumable birth place.

In Greece, which is among the ten first cherry producing countries in the world, cherries are grown in Kolindros of Pieria, Edessa, Grevena, northern Chios and in several other areas of Greece, mostly in the north. The Cherries Tragana (crispy) of Rhodochori have been granted by EU legislation as of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).


How to make cherry spoon sweet (about 2 kilos)

glyko-kerasiIngredients: 2 kilos of cherries, 1/2 cup of water, 2 kilos of sugar, 2 spoonfuls of lemon juice,  Extra lemon juice (3 spoonfuls), 2 – 3 fragrant geranium leaves (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence),  (1/2 cup of pickling lime dissolved in 2 litres of water) optional


  • Wash the cherries well. Remove stems and pits using a pit remover.
  • Place cherries in a saucepan, and cover with cold water and the lemon juice and leave it for an hour.
  • Strain them and wash them thoroughly and drain them again. Place them back in the saucepan, covering each layer with sugar and the water, until all the cherries and all the sugar have been used, and leave them overnight.
  • The following day bring the cherries and sugar to a boil over high heat. Skim off foam as it rises to the top with a slotted ladle.
  • Lower heat and simmer for about 1 hour, until the syrup thickens, add the 3 spoonfuls of lemon juice and geranium leaves or vanilla and allow it to boil for another few seconds. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  • When thoroughly cooled, place in sterilized airtight glass jars to store together with the geranium leaves.

Serve alone, or as a topping on Greek yogurt, ice cream, cheesecake, tarts, creams or other desserts.

The syrup is ideal to wet sponge cakes or to make fruit compotes.

This is a recipe of Kopiaste

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