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.


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. Commented Jul 4, 2012 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. ;) Commented Jul 4, 2012 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. Commented Jul 7, 2012 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
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 3:46

5 Answers 5


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. ;)


Cherries have natural yeast on their surface so if you do not wash the cherries but place them in a jar with sugar they should ferment. According to my late grandfather (who made many, many batches of vishnick) you should allow it to ferment in a dark location for at least a year and then drain off the liquor after a year. The original jar should be covered by a breathable fabric (so it doesn't explode from the carbon dioxide (fermentation product). I did attempt this process but I ended up with larvae after a few weeks from the eggs that must have been contained on the surface of the cherries. Still working on perfecting this simple technique.

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    I rinsed the cherries thoroughly and removed all stems and leaves. I also cut a slit in a bunch of them, supposedly it improves the flavour when the pit is in contact with the liquid. I've done this a few times now and never had a problem with larvae, but I also put it in the fridge to keep the fermentation slow (it didn't stop, just slowed down a bit). The result of letting it ferment all on its own is a liquid too syrupy for my tastes, but very cherry like, and rather boozy. I still like the recipe that mixes it with vodka after a few weeks of fermentation. Not as sweet, and boozier. ;) Commented May 26, 2014 at 3:45

My Grandfather would put about 3 inches of Sour Cherries not pitted in each of 3 clean Gallon jugs. He would cover with sugar. The lid of the Jugs were punched with holes and cheese cloth patches over the top of the jugs and closed. They were put in a dark cellar for 5-6 weeks. After that time he would open the Jugs and fill them about 2/3 of the way to the top with 180 proof everclear (grain alcohol) The cherries at that time would have been all wrinkled like raisins. After a month in the cellar the liquid would be a very slight pink and the cherries were big and plumb. He would pour all the liquid through cheese cloth and then in to Decanters. The Cherries would be washed in a colander and stored in wide mouth jars. Only the adults were allowed to drink the Vishnick, but the Grandchildren could partake of the Cherries. Go and figure.


I am in possession of black morello cherry vishnik. The cherries were picked and allowed to ferment into wine, with some yeast added. After several years in the basement, the wine was filtered and mixed with overproof alcohol, slowly. Each taste test allowed us to find the right wine and alcohol mixture. The result was bottled in sterilized bottles and corked; after 10 years we had to filter the sediment (lees) first through a mesh sieve, then through unbleached coffee filters. We call the result liquid sleeping pills.

My parents had another and faster process: putting plumbs in good brandy and waiting 6 months.


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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