Recipe: Maraschino Cherries

This is not a maraschino cherry.

Sorry, folks.  That’s, like, a zombie masquerading as a cherry.  How are they made? They’re brined in sodium metabisulfate, calcium chloride, and citric acid; soaked in corn syrup and fructose solution; then artificially flavored and colored.


Those abominations came about because of Prohibition, the root of all of the culinary evil laid upon us in the 20th Century (I’m convinced of this.  Prohibition and Campbell’s Soup, but I digress).  Maraschino cherries are named for marasca cherries and maraschino liqueur, which is made from the pits of the marasca cherry.  Traditional maraschino cherries (today made by the Luxardo brand) are soaked in maraschino liqueur and are delicious.  They’re firm, recognizable as cherries, candied, and seriously delicious.  I keep a jar of these treats in my fridge at all times.

However, I got a bug to make maraschino cherries, which is unfortunate as we’ve just hit what feels like the dead of winter, and cherry season is long gone.  A bit of poking around on google revealed that I could make them with jarred cherries and they’d be pretty good, if not as firm as a traditional Maraschino.  I could live with that.  So, I went to work.

First, you’ll need some Maraschino liqueur.  If you’ve followed along with my Cocktail Hours, you might have a bottle of it.  You’ll also need brandy.  What you’ll be making, essentially, are brandied cherries, but they’ll have a slight bitter almond flavor from the Maraschino liqueur– very slight, not the overwhelming Creme de Almond flavor you get with the storebought variety..  You’ll also need tart cherries, which is why the Trader Joe’s Morello cherries are perfect.  In the summer, I’ll do these again, but with fresh cherries and a slightly different process.

Maraschino Cherries

1 jar Trader Joe’s Morello Cherries, drained, reserve juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

1/2 cup brandy

Mix the juice and the sugar in a saucepan.  Heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.  In the meantime, divide your cherry between 2 sterilized pint jars.  Mix the Luxardo and the brandy together, and pour the combined spirits evenly between the two mason jars.  They should each be about half full of juice, and packed with cherries.  Once the juice has reduced, allow to cool before pouring over the cherries.   Place and secure the lids and give them a quick tip to mix the syrup and spirits together.  They’ll be ready for cocktails the next day and will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

These also make great holiday gifts for the cocktail lover in your life.  Put them in a pretty jar, wrap with a bow, and give with pride!