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I've been looking for recipes for cherry vishnick and most of them involve just putting the cherries into a jar of vodka for several weeks. I'd been looking for a recipe that involves fermentation. I found one: http://pragmaticattic.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/homemade-sour-cherry-brandy-visinata-or-vishniak/

The part that involves fermentation:

Put 2 cups of cherries in a really large jar with a cup of sugar. Do not pit the cherries, she warned, because the pits are critical to the fermentation process. Let the fruit and sugar ferment for 2 weeks.

Has anyone tried this before? I'm thinking about doing this but I'm concerned that just putting cherries into water with sugar could easily get mouldy. Should I add some yeast too, to ensure that it ferments correctly? I'm guessing this recipe depends on wild yeast but I've never had any luck with that.


UPDATE

So I'm trying this out. After about a week, the sugar had drawn out all of the moisture of the cherries so now the wrinkly cherries are floating in this thick, pinkish syrup. I hadn't expected it to go as fast as it did - it probably went so fast because it's been unusually warm in the apartment this week. There's a very slight "sharpness" to the smell which might be the product of fermentation, but the taste is very sweet and I can't taste any alcohol. When I opened the jar today, it sounded like there was a bit of gas escaping. I might let it sit in the fridge for the second week, before I add the vodka.


Update 2

I am making it again this summer (2013), and this time I am very certain there is some kind of natural fermentation taking place. There are many tiny bubbles all along the edge of the jar, at the top of where the cherries are. The bubbles only started appearing after about 90% of the sugar was dissolved. There's a distinctive sound of pressure being released when I open the lid on the jar, and it smells like it's fermenting (but not in a bad way). I think this time I will wait until the bubbles stop forming before I add the vodka, but I'm wondering if there's any way to estimate (based on the amount of sugar and sour cherries) how much alcohol is going to be produced by this natural fermentation...

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There's no fermentation going on in that recipe, despite what the author claims. Fermentation requires yeast or bacteria. This recipe is just cherries macerated in vodka and sugar -- an infusion. From what I can tell, this is the traditional way to make it. –  Tobias Patton Jul 4 '12 at 14:16
    
@TobiasPatton: You're right, I found another recipe: bulgarianvillagerecipes.blogspot.ca/2011/07/… and there's no water or yeast - it's just cherries sitting in sugar. I guess you're right, there's no fermentation involved, and maybe the high sugar levels prevents the cherries from rotting? Is there a name for this process of letting the cherries just sit in sugar (since it's not likely to actually ferment) until they produce a liquid as the recipe describes (maybe liquification)? Either way, I think I may try this. ;) –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 4 '12 at 16:56
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@Wulfart: 2 cups of cherries and 1 cop of sugar is going to be pretty near 40% sugar by weight. There ain't nothing on God's green earth going to ferment that. That's jam levels of sugar. There's a reason they're called preserves. High levels of sugar impede bacterial and fungal activity. –  Tobias Patton Jul 7 '12 at 3:03
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Microbiological activity in a sugar sample isn't necessarily fermentation, keep in mind. Just because you see some activity in a jar left open for two weeks doesn't mean you have fermentation. You might just have growth of something nasty. –  brewchez Jul 9 '12 at 10:56
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I don't have any firsthand info to add, but my grandfather used to make vishnik. I wish I had a recipe but nothing was found in his personal effects after his death. It was a thick sweet liquor made with sour cherries. It had a pretty high alcohol content. –  user2975 Jan 1 '13 at 3:46
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2 Answers

For what its worth, I recently made Cherry Bounce with Montmorency Cherries I picked from Door County, WI and Brandy. I used a liter of brandy, about 1.5 cups of PITTED cherries, and about .33 cup of turbinado sugar. I mixed it up in the bottle and let sit for 4 months.

It is delicious. If it were me, Id simply do the same but with vodka. There is not a lot that can go too wrong here..not sure you can make vodka taste any worse. ;)

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Having made a ton of wines (including cherry wine), sodas, pickles, beer and other fermented goodies I can tell you that the most important thing is going to be having a sanitized/sterile environment. Use a sanitizer such as One-Step on all of your containers, utensils and even your hands. Don't allow anything that's not sanitized to go into your fermenting container. Wash your cherries well, or buy some from a wine company that are pasteurized to ensure that there are no contaminants on the fruit (otherwise you can boil yours). I have used Vintners Harvest Fruit Wine Making Bases before, which include 96-oz cans of cherries.

Your fermenting container is going to need an airlock (sanitize it!), and fortunately for small-scale fermenters this company makes something much less gigantic than the 5 or 6-gallon bucket you'll find at a homebrew store: http://www.pickl-it.com/products/singles/

I haven't tried wild fermenting, and if you start with sanitized ingredients you won't have any wild yeasts. Depends on what kind of finished product you want, there are a ton of great yeasts out there, go to your homebrew store, tell them what you're making, and I'm sure they'll give you advice on what yeast to go with. Other things such as yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, etc, may or may not be necessary depending on what kind of final product you're looking for.

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