There was a bear who hibernated in a cold dark cave all through winter, sleeping soundly and soundlessly, all the while dreaming of sunshine and delicious things. Deep in her slumber in the belly of the cave, she once dreamed of basking in the golden rays of summer light with wildflowers in her hair sipping delicious crimson-colored sour cherry sharbat. The dream felt so real and so deep was the desire that the bear woke with a start only to find her contemplation of the bold bright red color of sour cherries was merely a haunting chimera in the empty pitch black darkness of the cave that was her crib nestled in the stark white and gray palette of the winter howling outside. With a sigh she fell back to sleep — waiting and wishing for summer and spring.
It was spring when she stirred awake again. The bear stretched her limbs, left the cave, and twirled in the daylight — dazzled with life and light. The very hungry bear craved many things and so the bear ate and ate and ate. Oh, this bear meant to make up for the winter-past and the winter that was to come — not losing sight of the deprived pang of her frosty midnight yearning for the luscious tart redness of sour cherries and the sweet elixir of sour cherry sharbat.
Come early summer time, sour cherry trees in the orchards proudly bore their pretty fruit. The bear ate her fill! Munching fistfuls and spitting the stony pits with glee. And she made sour cherry syrup (as was her wont and custom as a Persian bear) so that all summer long, she could make ruby-hued sharbet ‘eh albaloo sour cherry drinks and spritzers to sip and sip. For herself. For her friends. To murmur with pleasure. To keep all thoughts of winter at bay.
To bottle your own Persian sour cherry syrup and make pretty and delicious sharbat ‘e albaloo drinks to nurse and sip all summer long,
Here’s how to make sour cherry sharbat:
- 2 cups fresh or frozen sour cherries
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- A bottle of sparkling water (optional)
- Wash the cherries and remove the stems.
- Mix sugar and water in a big pot and boil for 5 minutes.
- Add the sour cherries.
- Bring to a gentle boil (small bubbles), lower heat, and simmer the mixture for up to 20 minutes until the syrup thickens. (During this step, I like to press the sour cherries with a wooden spoon to release as much of their juice as possible.)
- Remove pot from heat and allow to cool.
- Using a meshed colander, strain syrup into a big bowl. (You can use the left over cherries – after removing the pits – as toppings on ice cream or yogurt or a parfait.)
- Pour syrup into a sterilized, dry, airtight bottle.
In a glass (for individual serving) or in a pitcher (for a group) mix syrup, water (flat or sparkling) and ice cubes. Stir and serve well chilled.
How much syrup and how much water? The general consensus is 1 part syrup for 3 parts water, but in my opinion, play with the proportions to find what flavor and color suits your tastes the best. Personally, I like my sharbat on the more diluted side with just a hint of color.
The bear likes hers with a deep robust color and on the sweet side.
Eat it. Enjoy it. And as they say in Farsi: Noosheh Jaan!