Another food mystery solved…Fishne (visne) Anoush – or – Sour Cherry Preserves

Canadian, Juliana Garcia recently wrote to for some help.

Her request:

“I’ve been trying to find information about an Armenian jam that is mostly made for Christmas celebrations. I think it is called “fishne anoush” and is a deep purple-brown jam with tiny round fruits inside. Do you know what kind of fruit it is or its equivalent in western food? Thanks!”

After doing some research, I learned that “fishne” or “visne” refers to sour cherries. I found recipes for sour cherry preserves and a sour cherry cordial (liqueur) in one of my older Armenian cookbooks, “Treasured Armenian Recipes”.
I sent Juliana the recipes, plus information about the growing season for sour cherries which is from mid June to early July. She thought these recipes would be a wonderful birthday surprise for her husband, a talented cook.

Sour Cherry Preserves from Harvest Song

Sour Cherry Preserves, from “Treasured Armenian Recipes”
Yield: 2- 8 ounce jars


2 cups sour cherries, pitted and stems removed
1 ½ cups sugar (or a little more if cherries are very sour) 
Cook cherries in sugar until syrup is thick. Pour into sterilized jars and seal with paraffin.

(According to another source, the color of this should be more of a deep burgundy rather than bright red.)

Sour Cherry Cordial

To prepare sour cherry syrup:
Use 1 cup sour cherries, pitted and stems removed, for every 1 cup of sugar

Cover cherries with sugar and let stand overnight. Next day, place cherry-sugar mixture in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Drain off most of the juice for the cordial. Use 1 cup whisky to 2 cups cherry syrup. To a one gallon jug add 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 2 sticks cinnamon, 2 whole nutmegs. A whole cup of cherries may be added to serve with the cordial later. Ready in one month.

 Juliana’s Update:

“I did give (my husband) the recipes for his birthday, and he was so pleased and surprised! We really couldn’t figure out what fruit it was… We have also found an organic producer of sour cherries nearby and we are planning a little weekend road trip to pick them up when they are in season (part of the gift too.)

Here in Montreal there is a store specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern products, and I decided go up there and ask if they carried any sour cherry jam, and they had a bunch of them! The one I chose tastes similar, slightly sweeter, a little more runny, but not as good as the (one we received as a Christmas gift from Egypt). And again, thank you so much, this turned out to be a great gift!”

We’re always pleased when we are able to satisfy a reader-request…please keep them coming!

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  1. Ara May 3, 2011 at 6:54 am

    That sounds great, Robyn! Harvest Song, the jam company you blogged about some time ago, makes an amazing sour cherry jam, which they sell on their web site.

    But now, it's time for another traditional and much beloved sour cherry recipe: sour cherry brandy. My friend's dad used to make it in 5-gallon water bottles in his garage. I have no idea what he put in it or how he made it, but moonshine had nothing over it–pure 1,000 proof alcohol! 🙂

  2. Ara May 3, 2011 at 6:58 am

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