I do not like maraschino cherries.
This is a fact. I used to pick them out of my Shirley Temples, offer the ones off my ice cream sundaes to anyone that wanted them, and sipped around them in my girlie cocktails. Well, it turns out that I don’t like commercially made maraschino cherries.
Making your own maraschino cherries is a fair amount of work. Fresh cherries can be pricy, and they all need to be washed and pitted (messy work). Then they have to be cooked with a variety of ingredients, including pomegranate juice (also pricy) and fresh orange zest. Then once you’ve got these cherries all cooked, you have to put them in jars and into the fridge for three days. As if that weren’t enough, with no preservatives, they won’t stay fresh for long. This seems like an awful lot of trouble for something that can cheaply and easily be bought in a jar. I mean, how bad could they be?
Okay, then. Homemade maraschino cherries it is! In a discussion with a group of friends, we decided that calories from miniature foods don’t count. I countered that I make things from scratch for that same reason; it might not be good for me, but it’s way better than if it were commercially made. For some foods, like these cherries, this is especially true.
Real maraschino cherries are made by soaking cherries in maraschino liqueur. Who knew? However, most of my goodies tend to be enjoyed by small children, so for most applications, those cherries are not the ones that I need.
This version of cherries is alcohol free, and I think very tasty. You can add red food coloring to make them look more like store bought, but I have a real distaste for artificial colors. Cherries are red enough on their own.
Homemade Maraschino Cherries (adapted from the recipe from Cupcake Project)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 fluid ounces lemon juice (juice from about 3 lemons)
- pinch of salt
- Peel from one large orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 pound pitted cherries (invest in a cherry pitter, and don’t wear white)
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, add everything except the cherries.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, stirring periodically.
- Add the cherries.
- Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until the syrup has a bit of a cherry flavor. You don’t want to cook the cherries – you just want to bring out some of their flavor. However, I can attest that cooking the cherries really doesn’t hurt. They just turn out a little softer.
- Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the entire contents to a bowl (so it doesn’t continue cooking).
- Let cool to room temperature.
- Transfer to an air-tight container, like glass jars, and refrigerate.
- Let the flavors develop for about three days, then enjoy!
Waiting the three days for the cherries to be ready is tough. Of course, they taste pretty darn good straight from the pan too. The syrup is delicious. I’ve made homemade grenadine as well, but the syrup from the cherries would be just as good for making a mean Shirley Temple. These are absolutely worth the effort, and you will never buy a jar of scary cherries again.