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Maraschino Cherries

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Maraschino Cherries

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The original Maraschino cherries were made by soaking small sour wild black Maraska cherries, from what is now Croatia, in Maraschino Liqueur. These original cherries were a luxury item and getting one as a garnish was a real treat.

The Maraschino Cherry as we know it today was invented by an Oregon State University professor named Ernest H. Wiegand. These Day Glo Red versions of the Maraschino Cherries on our supermarket shelves are made from cherries that are bleached chemically, treated with calcium hydroxide, artificially flavored, dyed and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. When they first came out, they had to be labled as "Imitation", since they were in fact Imitation Maraschino Cherries.

While there are some old style Maraschino Cherries available in the market place, many modern cocktail enthusiasts make their own. Below are some recipes using fresh, canned and frozen cherries.

Below we will try to list a variety of different recipes for making Maraschino Cherries. If the recipe you currently use isn't reflected in the list below, please add it and let us know where you got it from.

Maraschino Cherries - Using Fresh Cherries

Posted by Calamityville on 2/4/09

This recipe using fresh cherries and the two versions that follow were developed by me in an effort to make a "Better Cherry" than what I could buy  locally. I wanted a cherry that reflected the spirit of the original Maraschino Cherries and that was easy and affordable to make. I pretty much winged it and was pretty pleased with the results. The recipe didn't last nearly as long as I anticipated because I found myself seeking out recipes to garnish with cherries and I shared them generously - make way more than you think you'll need. I came up with the recipes using frozen and canned cherries when I ran dangerously low on the batch made with fresh cherries.

  • 1/2 Gallon Jar
  • 2 lbs of Sweet Cherries or more as needed to fill jar
  • 2 cups of evaporated cane sugar
  • 1 cup Luxardo Maraschino Liquor
  • 1 bottle Clear Creek Kirchwasser (Cherry Eau de Vie)
  1. Wash cherries.
  2. Fill jar tightly with cherries. Leave on stems. Leave pits in cherries, they'll add flavor. Add a few leaves too if you've got them.
  3. Pour Sugar over cherries - wiggle the jar to get the sugar to sift on down in to the cherries
  4. Pour in Luxardo Maraschino Liquor
  5. Fill Jar to top with Eau de Vie - It will take a cup or two
  6. Store in cool dark location for eight weeks
  7. Shake a couple of times daily until sugar is dissolved
  8. Store in refrigerator after eight week maceration period.

The cherries shrink during the maceration. You'll end up with about a quart and a half of cherries and a bunch of cherry liqueur that can be substitued for Cherry Heering.


Maraschino Cherries - Using Canned Cherries

Posted By Calamityville on 2/4/09

I make this when I run out of the Version 1 which is made with fresh cherries. The advantage of this recipe is that it can be made year round and is ready in a day.

  • 1 - 24 oz jar of Trader Joe's Morello Cherries in light syrup - These are sour type cherries from Germany and  preserved in syup
  • 1/2 C Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/2 C Clear Creek Kirschwasser, plus more as needed to fill the jar
  • 1/2 C evaporated cane sugar
  1. Cook the liquid from the cherries and the sugar until it's reduced by half and let it cool.
  2. Add the reduced liquid, the Kirschwasser and the Maraschino back to the cherries in the jar.
  3. Let it sit over night. Store in the refrigerator.


Maraschino Cherries - Using Frozen Cherries

Posted By Calamityville on 2/4/09

The advantage of this recipe is that it can be made year round. The frozen cherries seem to absorb the alcohol and sugar much more quickly than the fresh cherries and the process only takes a week.

  • 1lb of Frozen Sweet Cherries
  • 2/3 C evaporated cane sugar
  • 1/2 C Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/2 C Clear Creek Kirschwasser
  1. Put the cherries in an empty one quart canning jar with all of the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Give the jar an occasional  gentle shake.
  3. When the sugar is dissolved put the cherries in the refrigerator and let them age a week before using.

This makes a bit more than a pint.


Recent Comments

By: H. Posted on 5 Feb 2009 5:36 PM

I usually just pit California Bings and fill gallon jars with them, then cover them in Luxardo Maraschino. When the cherries are gone, I reserve the liqueur but have not used it for anything yet. I plan to make a unique cherry liqueur with it, sits with other half completed projects in my lab next to a gallon jar of a bacon fat wash in Eagle Rare 10 year...

One other thing I did was to soak a gallon jar like that with Tezon Blanco and 6 or 8 cinnamon sticks. I used them as a garnish in an Anejo Manhattan and they went over well as "Agave Cherries"

By: bradley dawson Posted on 6 Mar 2009 5:32 AM

Not spectacular, but effective. Dried cherries reconstituted with a bottle of whiskey seems to go over well. Especially with and Uncle Victors Bacon Bourbon Old Fashioned.

By: AlchemistGeorge Posted on 6 Jun 2009 11:40 PM

I've found if you soak pitted sweet cherries in luxardo maraschino liqueur for about 48 hours, let drip dry for 5 minutes, then refrigerate, you'll have a heck of a garnish.  When I've left them in any longer than three or four days they lose their color & texture - I'll have to try with added sugar, etc.

By: sylvan Posted on 27 Jun 2009 1:34 PM

I just made this, but I doubled the maraschino (Maraska - $4.85/cup) and reduced the cherry eau-de-vie to about a cup (Clear Creek - $16.08/cup) for economic reasons. I probably should have reduced the sugar a bit to compensate, but I added the sugar before I walked up to the store and got smacked with sticker shock. The Clear Creek is a real special product, and I'll be savoring the rest of the bottle.

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