Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli)

Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli) - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

Recipe for a Turkish classic.

Sour cherries may not be as tasty as their cousins in fresh form. But with a little help and a little love they can be transformed into a much longer-lasting joy than the short-season cherries.

Like most Norwegians, I love jam. I can happily eat it multiple times a day (and do). Still, after two years in Istanbul, I’m inclined to say that Turks take their love of jam even further. They may perhaps not eat as much of it as we do back home. Turkish jam is much sweeter, and a little goes a long way. What’s striking in Turkey, though, is the sheer range of jams. If it can be eaten, there’s probably a Turkish anne somewhere turning it into jam, right as we speak.

Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli) - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

Turks’ sweet tooth mean they are, for the most part, heavy on the sugar. But where the jams I’m used to have pretty small pieces of the actual fruits in it, in Turkey most jams have much more of a bite to it. Rather than mixing the whole lot, Turkish jams often more resemble fruits preserved in its own sugary syrup than the concept of jams I grew up with, making it taste almost more sugary than it is, unless you try to avoid most of the syrup – in which case the point of jam is gone.

However, for some fruits, this method makes a lot of sense. Perhaps for none more than for sour cherries. In it, the sweet and the sour mixes for an irresistible jam, with the whole berries providing both a little relief from the sweetness of the syrup and an altogether more interesting texture. And the whole process brings out an incredible deepness of flavour, almost as if someone added cinnamon and a few other spices to it, even though there are none.

Turkish sour cherry jam can of course be eaten just the way you prefer to eat any other jam. My personal favourite is with a little natural yoghurt, as a simple dessert or a little snack. My recipe – if you can call a two-and-a-half ingredient list with no processing a recipe – is below that of the jam itself. I also like it a lot with Norwegian style waffles, which incredibly are widely popular also in Turkey (though they eat them rather differently). Yields around 1 litre of jam.

Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli) - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli)

Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli) - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul
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  • 1 kg sour cherries
  • 700-850 g sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice

My method

  1. Rinse the sour cherries well. Remove all stalks and leaves. Throw away any rotten berries. Remove the stone. I use a small, sharp knife to tilt it out – you’ll figure it out very quickly.
  2. Add the sour cherries and sugar to taste to a bowl. How much sugar you’ll need depends on how sour the berries are, and personal preference. I usually weigh my stoned sour cherries and add an equal amount of sugar – usually around 700-800 grams. Cover and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
  3. The next day, add the cherries along with all of the juices to a pot. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add lemon juice to taste, and more sugar if necessary. Leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the ready jam into sterilised jars. Twist the lid properly and leave upside-down until cool. Transfer to the fridge, where it’ll keep for weeks, perhaps even months, given your jars were properly sterilised and sealed.

Yoghurt with Turkish sour cherry jam (Vişne reçeli) - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

Yoghurt with Turkish sour cherry jam

Ingredients (per portion)

  • 3-4 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1-2 tsp sour cherry jam
  • mint leaves, to garnish (optional)

My method

  1. Add the yoghurt and sour cherry jam to a small glass, layering if you like. Top with a little fresh mint, if you like. Serve immediately.



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  • I was in the Peace Corps in Turkey (SW) and this brings back
    memories of how much my roommate and I loved this jam…
    WE would put sweet butter on bread, wonderful rustic bread and then
    we would slather the jam on..
    We also added it to the excellent yogurt we had.

    • How wonderful! Isn’t it great how food brings back good memories… Thanks for sharing 🙂

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