Making Maraschino Cherries
These cherries get their name from the traditional method used to make them. People made maraschino cherries by soaking sweet cherries in an Italian spirit known as maraschino liqueur. Thus the name. The spirit itself was made from different parts of the cherry tree. Such as leaves, stems, and part of the fruit.
As you can see, the product was entirely natural at the beginning. Processors used no artificial coloring or chemical preservatives to make them. Modern maraschino cherries are different.
The commercially produced ones aren’t made using liqueur. They are typically bathed in chemicals and then garnished with sugar syrup before being dyed in bright red color. Nevertheless, their vivid red color makes maraschino cherries highly inviting, and they are sugary.
Initially, people limited the use of these cherries to sundaes. We can all remember fighting for them with siblings. However, the cherries have gained broader usage in the recent past.
They have become a permanent fixture in more types of cakes, cookies, and desserts as follows. Nevertheless, they are an excellent garnish for ice creams, hams, pound cakes, and cookies. You can also use the cherries to top your drinks in trifles or give your juice additional cherry flavors. The bright red color and the sweet taste of maraschino cherries make them a constant fixture in valentine’s dates.
These cherries can be commercially made or homemade. Commercially made maraschino cherries are available to buy in many outlets. But they can be unhealthy if overused.
Commercial Maraschino Cherries
Companies mainly use three varieties of fruits to make maraschino cherries: Royal Ann, Gold, and Rainier. And they are made using a lot of chemicals. Nevertheless, using these chemicals is the only way a mass production of the cherries can be commercially viable as it stabilizes them for a long shelf-life.
Unfortunately, the use of chemicals causes the end product to be considered unhealthy by many.
Making Commercial Maraschino Cherries
- Pitted cherries are soaked in a highly concentrated brine solution. This solution contains sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride. The fruits remain in this solution for about 30-45 days, at which time they lose their natural pigment and flavor.
- Cherries are then soaked in a solution of bright red food dye, bitter almonds oil, sugar, and chemical preservatives.
People rarely eat platefuls of maraschino cherries. Therefore, even if they are laden with chemicals, your body may be able to rid itself of the toxicity of the one or two you take once in a long while. Commercial cherries are, however, distinctly disadvantaged when compared to homemade maraschino cherries.
How to make Maraschino Cherries at Home
You will need some sweet cherries, brine, and syrup. Moreover, each of the three components has different ingredients except for cherries which come as you get them from the tree except for the pitting.
Cherries – Three pounds of pitted sweet cherries
– Two quarts or liters of water
– One tablespoon of salt. You can also use brining
– 4 ½ Cups of sugar
– Three cups of water
– Lemon juice from one average size lemon
– An ounce of almond oil
– Food coloring
- Put the salt in the two liters of water you reserved for the brine and boil until the salt dissolves.
- Allow the water to cool for at least ten minutes, and then pour it over your cherries (remember the cherries should be pitted)
- Cover the cherries and let them stay in the saltwater for twelve hours
- When twelve hours are over, drain your cherries and clean them with cold, plain water
- Discard the brine after draining; you won’t be using it again.
The next step is making the syrup and garnishing your cherries accordingly.
- Put the three cups of water for the syrup in a medium saucepan and put in the 4 ½ cups of sugar, lemon juice, and food coloring. Put the mixture on the stove and stir for the sugar to dissolve. Keep it on the heat and remove it immediately after it boils. Your syrup is ready for use.
- Put the syrup in your cherries, cover them and let them marinate for twenty-four hours.
- Remove the cherries from the syrup and put them in a separate container. You can use a sieve to do this and don’t discard the syrup. You need it for the next step.
- Put the syrup in a saucepan and boil. Add the almond oil if you are using it and stir well to mix the almond oil into the syrup.
- Add the syrup into the cherries when it is still warm.
- You can now pack the cherries in this syrup in clean, airtight jars and refrigerate. These cherries are good to use for up to two weeks when refrigerated.
You notice a marked difference between the manufacturing process of commercial maraschino cherries and homemade ones. The ones made at home use fewer chemicals. They are healthier than the ones made commercially.
Homemade cherries also retain most of their natural pigmentation and color.
There are some important considerations to make for the best results as follows.
– Cherries come as sweet and sour. You should only use sweet cherries for this recipe. Firm cherries that are entirely ripe are the best.
The cherries should be firm as they won’t quickly turn into a soggy mess during processing. Being completely ripe will ensure the end product is both nutritious and sweet.
Try to use Royal Ann, Bing, Tartarian, or Lambert varieties of the fruit. They produce homemade maraschino cherries.
– Buy pitted cherries. You can pit the cherries at home if you can’t get already pitted ones. Either that or you harvest from your trees, and you will need a cherry pitter for the task.
You should avoid eating too many maraschino cherries. The temptation is considerable. But as you have seen, it takes quite some time to make them. Nevertheless, they contain a considerable amount of sugar. Be this as it may, homemade maraschino cherries are way healthier than commercial ones.
All the ingredients of making the cherries are easy to find the process of making them is relatively simple. So yes, you can make your maraschino cherries at home.