How to Make Sour Cherry Grappa

Total Croatia News

What’s the first sign of summer in the Balkans? Jars of sour cherry goodness fermenting on window sills and balconies

When my friend Annie from the USA visited, I remember her pointing at big jars on windows and balconies, asking me what they were. It was then that I realised that one of the most common sights in the region might not be so common elsewhere.

Sometimes we all take for granted the fact that everyone in Croatia has a mom / sister / uncle / second cousin twice removed who makes their own grappa, most frequently two types – the insanely strong lozovača and the delicious and creamy sour cherry grappa, višnjevača.

Sour cherry grappa is made using three ingredients: 1 kg sour cherries, 0.75 kg sugar, and 1 l grappa, typically omnipresent lozovača (a strong home-made rakija made from grapes). If you’re not from Croatia and aren’t sure where to get lozovača, ask someone – every self-respecting house in Croatia has a bottle of all-purpose lozovača hiding somewhere. The magical potion is used for at least 20 other things besides drinking, including cleaning wounds, helping with mosquito-induced itches and sanitising the house, curing toothache, lowering high body temperature; it’s a genuine Balkan panacea.

Anyway, you have to drink a shot of rakija when entering a house in the Balkans, so everyone will have some lozovača, but if your eyes start to tear when you smell this incredibly strong alcoholic beverage, don’t worry, it’s happened to the best of us. That’s why you can make your own sour cherry grappa and avoid having to come up with lousy excuses as to why you can’t drink the liquid fire that is lozovača.

So, it goes like this: you wash the sour cherries, remove the stems, and find some wide mouth jars. Then you start adding layers: a layer of sour cherries, followed by a layer of sugar (making sure the bottom layer is sour cherries and the top layer is sugar). You then close the jars tightly and leave them out in the sun for the next three weeks until the sugar dissolves. You can stir it occasionally to speed up the process. After three weeks have passed, add the grappa, close the lid tightly once more, and leave it in the sun for another week. Some people add vanilla or cinnamon, but if you want the yummy sour cherry flavour to really stand out, skip this step.
After a week has passed, strain the contents of the jar using a gauze and pour it into separate bottles, but leave them open for a few days because the fermenting process isn’t quite finished yet. The remaining sour cherries can be used as dessert throughout the year, or you can use them to make toppings for ice creams or cakes.



Recipe from


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