Drink Week, Day Three: No-Cook Sour Cherry Syrup

June 29, 2011(updated on December 6, 2021)

sour cherries

It’s day three of Drink Week! Today’s topic is the no-cook fruit syrup. Because sometimes, it’s just too darn hot to turn on the stove for even a minute. This sour cherry version is ideal with a little spritz, so make sure to click over and enter the Sodastream giveaway. Make sure to check out the previous two Drink Week posts, Black Raspberry Syrup and Cherry Bounce and Other Boozy Infusions.

no-cook sour cherry syrup

If you search this website, you will see that my obsession with sour cherries is well-documented. There are at least two different jam recipes here, and recently, I’ve been tempted to post a third, since lately I’ve been making a whole sour cherry preserve that would knock your socks off. But this isn’t about cherry preserves. This about a revelation I had recently. It’s the no-cook, whole fruit syrup.

spoon a few dollops (cherries and all)

In essence, you put a some fruit in a jar (in this case, two cups of pitted sour cherries). Pour half as much sugar in (one cup of organic cane sugar) and then smash the heck out of the fruit with a wooden spoon, tiny potato masher or the end of a rolling pin (I used a little muddler that looks like a tiny baseball bat). After you’ve taken out your aggressions, just park the jar in the fridge overnight and forget about it.

pour on the fizz

The next day, check on your jar of sugared and smashed fruit. In some cases, the sugar will be entirely dissolved, but not always. If not, give the jar a good shake (make sure you’ve got a tight-fitting lid on there or you’ll be covered in sticky juice) and put it back. After a day or so of chilling and shaking, you should be left with a jar full of fruit and syrup, ready to be used.


Once it’s gotten nice and juicy, you have two choices. You can either strain the fruit from the syrup, discard it and proceed to use the syrup as you’d like. Or you can do what I do, and add those tender bits of sour cherry to your glass. I like it with some sparkling water and, on occasion, two or three drops of bourbon (for a very mild, faux, fizzy Manhattan). You can also use it to make instant sangria. Just add a few spoonfuls of the sour cherries and their syrup to a glass of red wine, ice cubes and sparkling water. Stir and quaff.

This technique also works with plums, apricots and plums. Try it. I think you’ll be sold.

Oh, and if all this talk of sparkling water has you parched, don’t forget to enter the Sodastream giveaway!

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31 thoughts on "Drink Week, Day Three: No-Cook Sour Cherry Syrup"

  • I’m with you on the sour cherry love! AND, I just found a grower who sells 4 gallon pails to anyone who shows up at the farm. Yippee! Sour cherry jam, cherry pie, sour cherry buckle, and yes, I’ll try your sour cherry syrup! Yummy!

  • *sigh* For some reason, sour cherries aren’t popular or don’t do well in the south. I only got a few pounds from a pick-your-own place, but haven’t seen ANY at markets. Alas, I’ll just have to dream about sour cherries until I hunt some down next year; the syrup sounds wonderful.

  • Sounds amazing!!

    Can you give some advice on preserving this? I’d love to stock up while the cherries are in season. Could you put these in a Jar and can them like you would jam? Or would it still go off?

    1. Ian, you can certainly can sour cherries in a syrup for longer term preservation. If you wanted to can these exact cherries, you’d macerate a larger amount until they produced their syrup. Then you’d heat it up, pack the fruit and syrup into the jars and process in a boiling water bath canner. I think the time would be 15 minutes, but I’m not in the same location as my canning books, so I can’t say with 100% certainty. However, you won’t have the exact same texture as the no-cook syrup, since you’re, in fact, cooking the cherries.

  • I so wish we could get good sour cherries in the South. I will be checking all the local stores to see if I can find some to try this. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing.

  • Lovely idea! I saw some cherries the last time I was at the grocery store–maybe I can find some ripe ones.

  • Oooh. That sounds really yummy. How long can you keep this (not that it would be likely to lastvery long)? It is kind of confusing, because some recipes for “boozy” fruit indicate a year or longer; others only a few months.

    1. Eleanor, there isn’t any booze added to these cherries, so they have no such preservatives in play. I’d say these would last 7-10 days in the fridge.

  • Do you think this would also be a can-able syrup after bringing it to a boil? I so hope we get sour cherries this year, it’s been an odd weather year here…

    1. Rebecca, see up above, I sort of answered this question in my reply to Ian. Short answer, yes, you could do it. It wouldn’t be quite the same, but it would be okay.

  • ooh, something tells me I will have to make a trip to the community garden to see if there are any left this weekend.
    I bet it would be a welcome appearance at this weekend’s block party! (hmm…maybe I can get some of the older neighbors to start reading your blog ;-P)

  • I started a beehive last year, so I have honey this year 🙂 I think I could use honey instead of sugar, and maybe raspberries (which I also grew) instead of sour cherries (too late here for sour cherries) . Think I’ll go try that right now.

    barbara (in Tennessee)

  • I’m loving all this talk about boozy fruit concoctions. I tried making a cherry bourbon once, but it didn’t call for sugar. Next time, I add the sugar. Thanks for such a fun site.

  • I love this no-cook version! Definitely going to be stocking up at the Farmer’s Market this weekend =)

  • Hey! Where did you get those sour cherries? We live in NC and have a tree that ripens mid June, and produces about 6 cups. Best tree in our yard!

  • Just made this last night, I included a few pieces of lemon peel. I love the idea of a fizzy mock Manhattan!

  • i just started a batch of this using raspberries i grew, and i just finished a batch of raspberry bounce. yum!!! i also made a batch of your strawberry jam from my berry patch, and have done the pickled asparagus, simple jalapeno pickles, pickled green tomatos… i’m sure i’m forgetting something. i can from my small urban (st johns, portland, or) residential garden and the neighbors’ apple tree; thank you for being such a great source for small batch preserving recipes!~

  • I made this last week- it is fantastic! I am trying to kick my diet coke addiction and this with sparkling water is really helping my do that! and I loved that I didn’t have to cook anything.

    This is probably the 4th recipe I’ve used from your site and they have all been fantastic. Thank you for being such a terrific canning resource.

  • I LOVE Bing cherries! Are they different than the sour cherries you use? Can I use them instead of the sour cherries used in these recipes?

    1. Bing cherries are a variety of sweet cherries. Tart or sour cherries are almost too puckery to be eaten raw. They are also smaller and have a bright, nearly pink color. Unfortunately, Bing cherries just won’t serve in recipes that want sour cherries.