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Making Maraschino Cherries


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#1 LindyCat

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 04:11 PM

The red dye used in these babies is not very good for you, and I'd like to get away from it. I make my own grenadine for this reason, and have been very pleased with it. (It's also fun to explain to the guests that it's pomegranate syrup.) I've also heard that in days of yore, maraschino cherries were kin to brandied cherries and somehow made with alcohol, though I don't know if that's true. In any case, does anyone have a recipe for maraschinos that turns up a fun red product without red dye 40?

#2 slkinsey

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 04:20 PM

I don't think you're going to find anything that gives you that "maraschino cherry red" color without the use of food coloring. This is a color that does not exist in nature. No reason you couldn't make some brandied cherries (or perhaps soak the cherries in maraschino liqueur) for use in cocktails, though.
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#3 SushiCat

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 04:35 PM

I make brandied cherries and use them for desserts, usually vanilla ice cream, warmed cherries and chocolate sauce. I have never tried them in a cocktail instead of a maraschino, but I am happy to experiment for you and let you know. Any particular cocktail you want me to try them in?

#4 DrinkBoy

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 08:11 PM

Lindy,

You are correct, "maraschino cherries" haven't always been the "almost artificial" things that often garnish our drinks. They were originally not much more than just brandied marasca cherries. The modern maraschino cherry was first invented just prior to Prohibition, and since prohibition prevented the previously common brandied cherry from being easily obtainable, the artificially colored, and artificially flavored maraschino cherry took hold and flourished.

To make a modern maraschino cherry they basically soak perfectly good "Royal Ann" cherries in a lye mixture in order to drain them of all color and all flavor, and then marinate them in a sugar syrup that is flavored with almond (usually artificial) as well as a brilliant red artificial color. when they first came onto the market (around 1917 as I recall) there were a few reviews which bemoaned their existance.

I often make my own cherries by taking dried bing cherries (obtained from "Chukka Cherries" here at the Pike Place Market in Seattle), and soaking them in Bourbon to mildly reconstitute them. They are -not- brilliant red in color, and they are also not the big firm "cherry shaped" orb that can be extracted from the store bought jar. But I personally think they taste devine.

-Robert

#5 ludja

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 08:29 PM

Lindy,
...
I often make my own cherries by taking dried bing cherries (obtained from "Chukka Cherries" here at the Pike Place Market in Seattle), and soaking them in Bourbon to mildly reconstitute them.  They are -not- brilliant red in color, and they are also not the big firm "cherry shaped" orb that can be extracted from the store bought jar. But I personally think they taste devine.

-Robert

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Thanks for the interesting (and scary, re:the processing info) on maraschino cherries.

I love homemade or good brandied cherries in Manhattans. Had this first at Cafe du Nord in SF and started making them myself since.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#6 trillium

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 11:22 AM

I think brandied cherries are nicest made with sour cherries, left with their pits and a short stem. The pits really give a nice almondy flavor to the whole cherry after they've soaked in booze for a while (I also do ones in bourbon for Manhattans) and the little stems are just nice is a style way. Probably long stems would be even nicer but it's hard to fit them in the jar.

Has anyone actually had a marasca cherry? Is it similiar to amarone in Italy, also a dark sour cherry? Because there is a couple of cultivars available in N. America now, and one of my favorite growers has planted them because I've been begging and they are suckers for obscure stuff. Now if they'll just produce before I have to move!

regards,
trillium

#7 JAZ

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 10:31 AM

I've been using the wild Italian amarena cherries in cocktails ever since I tried one at a local bar -- Amarena Fabbri is the best brand I've found. Before I was introduced to them, I generally asked the bartender to hold the cherry because I dislike commercial maraschino cherries so much. Once I tried these, I kept trying to find drinks that used them so I could eat more of them.

#8 trillium

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 10:56 AM

Yes, ever since you mentioned them, I've been using them too, they are a nice sub for maraschino cherries. They're very processed though (pitted, put in a syrup that is flavored), so I'm wondering how the fresh fruit compares to the marasca. If I had to guess I'd guess they were very similiar.

regards,
trillium

#9 eje

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 12:22 PM

I've been using the wild Italian amarena cherries...Amarena Fabbri is the best brand I've found.

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Haven't tried those. Fancy jar, though!

When I was looking around for a Maraschino substitute for my home Old Fashioneds, I ran across D'Arbo Sour Cherries in Compote on sale at a local gourmet grocery. I had also had a jar of French Congac cherries in my hand; but, they were just too expensive. D'Arbo is an Austrian company and I'm a big fan of their jams. The cherries are quite tasty, if a bit small. Ingredients are just water, sugar, and Ascorbic Acid.

Erik
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#10 kvltrede

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 04:36 PM

I came across this recipe while surfing today. I'd say it sounds like a fine idea for reconstitiuting any number of dried fruits that could be used as cocktail garnishes. I assume vermouth would be an acceptable (or better) substitute for wine but I've never done anything like this. Anyone? How about hard liquor? Can brandy or bourbon be substituted straight up for wine or is there a standard ratio?

Kurt


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c 2005 by Sally Schneider. All rights reserved.
http://splendidtable...riedfruit.shtml
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#11 kvltrede

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 11:26 AM

I came across this recipe while surfing today.  I'd say it sounds like a fine idea for reconstitiuting any number of dried fruits that could be used as cocktail garnishes.  I assume vermouth would be an acceptable (or better) substitute for wine but I've never done anything like this.  Anyone?  How about hard liquor?  Can brandy or bourbon be substituted straight up for wine or is there a standard ratio?

Essential Plumped Dried Fruit
c 2005 by Sally Schneider. All rights reserved.
http://splendidtable...riedfruit.shtml

I made a 1/3-sized version of this recipe last night. The cherries were very tasty but I'm not sure they'll work in cocktails unless the dried cherries used are in substantially more complete condition than those I used. Some of the cherries plumped up nicely while the more mangled bits of cherry ended up as nicely plumped up mangled bits of cherry. I'm not sure that separating the whole from mangled is worth the effort. I used dried tart cherries I found at Stanley's on Elston in Chicago. If any Chicagoans know where I might find slightly larger cherries that are less susceptible to falling to pieces while drying--and thus more likely to look like whole cherries when "plumped"--I would be grateful

I substituted 1/8 tsp of vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. I just guessed at the amount and it turned out well. The vanilla flavor was clear but not overwhelming. I did not substitute liquor for any of the water called for and didn't find the cherries lacking anything. Also, I didn't have any clean jars available so I can't tell you if "curing" the cherries at room temp improves the flavor. I can tell you that they made an exceptionally fine addition to vanilla yogurt as is. I might reduce the amount of sugar next time. For my tastes they were just passed the point of optimal sweetness. I do think, though, that the amount of sugar called for would please a sizable majority of folks.

I think the next batch will go into a jar with some brandy or bourbon whether I try to use them for cocktails or not.

Kurt
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#12 kvltrede

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 10:07 AM

I came across this recipe while surfing today...
Essential Plumped Dried Fruit
c 2005 by Sally Schneider. All rights reserved.
http://splendidtable...riedfruit.shtml

...The cherries were very tasty but I'm not sure they'll work in cocktails unless the dried cherries used are in substantially more complete condition than those I used. Some of the cherries plumped up nicely while the more mangled bits of cherry ended up as nicely plumped up mangled bits of cherry. I'm not sure that separating the whole from mangled is worth the effort...I can tell you that they made an exceptionally fine addition to vanilla yogurt as is...

Hmm. I pulled the yogurt container out of the fridge last night and found a very pleasant surprise. The cherries I had added the night before were now at least twice the size they were when I added them. They had roughly doubled in size after being cooked the night before but now they're just about original size, about four times the size they were when dry. I don't know whether this is due to the additional time or additional moisture provided by the yogurt but it suggests to me that this recipe can indeed provide a tastier cherry for cocktails. Once the cherries are this big it shouldn't be any trouble at all picking the whole cherries from the mangled.

I'll make another batch fairly soon and I'll be sure to report back. If there's anyone here with more experience reconstituting dried fruit I'd be very interested to hear from you. I assume that I'll have the same results leaving the cherries to soak in the syrup and bourbon as I did leaving them overnight in yogurt. I don't see why not. Well, I guess I'll know as soon as I have a few minutes to cook up another batch.

Oh, can anyone tell me how long a jar of these cherries might keep in the fridge if they're soaking in hooch?

Kurt

Edited by kvltrede, 08 March 2005 - 11:30 AM.

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#13 eje

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 11:09 AM

Oh, can anyone tell me how long a jar of these cherries might keep in the fridge if their soaking in hooch?

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Alcohol should act as a preservative; but, the big factor will be cross contamination.

If you store them in the refrigerator, only removed them with a clean spoon and keep a lid on the container they should keep fairly indefinitely.

On the other hand, if your container wasn't clean to start with, you take them out with your fingers, and leave them out open on the counter overnight for your cat to lick...

You know, typical food stuff.

Throw them out if they start getting cloudy, sprout mold, or smell funny.

Erik
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#14 slkinsey

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Posted 01 May 2005 - 11:24 AM

This article by Tony Cecchini in today's NY Times magazine had some interesting information about maraschino cherries:

In the late 1800's, marasca cherries macerated in maraschino liqueur became a delicacy among affluent Europeans and, from there, made the leap to fine hotels and restaurants in America. The prized sweet of its time, it was flourished by competitive barmen as the ultimate garnish. The alcoholic content of the cherries, however, made them an easy target for the temperance movement, thereby opening the door for good old American reinvention.

Turn-of-the-century tinkerers found that pickling the Royal Ann cherry in an alum-and-salt brine, then resweetening and dyeing it and adding artificial almond flavoring, yielded a far cheaper version that quieted the concerns of both the parsimonious and the teetotaling. By the 1920's these imitations had displaced the platonic version in name as well as market.

So, it appears that the real think is simply sour cherries marinated in maraschino liqueur. The author used frozen Cascadian Farms whole organic sweet cherries (which apparently actually contains sour cherries) and marinated them for several days in maraschino with delicious results. Anyone with access to a farmer's market could probably do even better with fresh sour cherries.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#15 hbear

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 10:08 PM

I've put up cherries in bourbon with success- but I'd like to try proper maraschino style cherries- does anyone have a foolproof recipe? Do you have to use alum? I have two quarts of sour cherries waiting in the fridge...

#16 lancastermike

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 05:43 AM

I have some I made a week ago following a receipe in the book "Raising the Bar"

I think there are e-gullet rules about posting receipies from books verbatim.

There was no alum involved. Essentaily making a syrup with some flavorings including one star anise and mixing in red grape juice and than adding the cherries for just a brief time on the stove and than cooling them. Very tasty and not at all like the jarred kind.

Edited by lancastermike, 07 July 2005 - 05:44 AM.


#17 slkinsey

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 06:58 AM

According to an article in the NY Times magazine a few months ago, the original maraschino cherries were made by marinating Marasca cherries in maraschino liqueur. So, all you need to do is find some sour cherries, pour some maraschino liqueur over them, and wait however long you're inclined to wait.

By the way, the evil red color of modern "maraschino cherries" has nothing to do with the real thing.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#18 trillium

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 10:28 AM

You don't have to use alum, if you do it right, the cherries stay firm for quite a while. I brandied and bourboned sour cherries last year and I followed the instructions in Chez Panisse Fruits and the Zuni Cafe cookbook (which were about the same). They stayed wonderfully firm and even somewhat crunchy. The best advice is to pick perfectly sound cherries without any oxidation spots, do a combination of your booze of choice and water and sugar. I don't remember the exact ratios. You let them sit at room temp for a while and then store them in the fridge (I think this is the key to firmness). I left the pit in as they suggested and after eating them realized why maraschino cherries taste like almond extract. It's a clumsy way of trying to mimic the wonderful taste the pit imparts on the cherry and the liquid after aging.

regards,
trillium

#19 jparrott

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 02:18 PM

Honestly, I'm not all that concerned about the texture of the final product. Anyone have any real improvements on basic pitted sour cherries and some maraschino?

(For now, I use Turkish jarred sour cherries...no extra alcohol, but they do the trick quite nicely, and my wife likes them in her rum-and-cokes too).
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#20 KatieLoeb

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 09:58 PM

One could always purchase a dehydrator (Ronco, Emson and Magic Chef are all popular brands) and dehydrate their own sweet or tart fresh cherries, and then rehydrate them in the liquor or juice of their own choosing.

Actually the possibilities for all manner of home made cocktail garnishes is mind boggling. Raspberries rehydrated in Chambord, cranberries rehydrated in Kurant vodka, small wedges of clementine rehydrated and used for drinks, etc.

Katie M. Loeb
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#21 CSASphinx

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 02:01 PM

I'm desperately tired of the pitiful selection of jarred cherries here in Maine. Nonetheless, I slip one nasty red cherry into my Manhattan each time I make one and always wish I had something better.

Now with fresh cherries arriving daily at the local farm stands and supermarkets, I've decided I will make my own.

The problem: I haven't the slightest clue what to do.

So anyone who has cured their own cherries for drink garnishes, please feel free to share your ideas.

Extra attention will go to those that include some kind of bourbon in the recipe.

Thanks,
Chris
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#22 mbanu

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 04:14 PM

Buy some cheap brandy, pour it in a large jar with some sugar syrup (3:1 ratio seems to work best for me) and add the cherries. Then wait a month or so and they're done. :) As a side effect, when you're done with the cherries, you'll have some homemade cherry liqueur. :)

You could also substitute vodka for brandy if you simply want to preserve the cherries and not toy with the flavor as much. White rum seems like a happy medium between the two.

Some people here have substituted bourbon or rye for brandy, but whether or not it was a success I don't remember.

#23 trillium

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 04:33 PM

I use bourbon for my (bourbon) Manhattans. Works great. I think I used around 3 T of sugar for a pint, and used Makers and a little water, maybe 2 T. Leave the pits in, they taste better that way...and use sour cherries, not sweet!

regards,
trillium

#24 tsquare

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 06:36 PM

What about the cherries floating in my bottle of Ginja, carried back from Portugal? I guess I should fish one out and see what it tastes like.

#25 johnder

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:39 PM

Admin: Threads merged.

Does anyone have any recipes or suggestions for making your own cocktail cherries for garnish? I looked around the other threads here and saw mention of buying the day-glo red cherries from the supermarket and rinsing them off quite thoroughly then covering them with gin for a few days, and also mention about buying some fancy italian cherries.

Has anyone made their own, or have other variations on creating them?

-jpd
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#26 KatieLoeb

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:50 PM

Wellll...

It's a little long winded procedurally, but pitting fresh cherries, putting them through a dehydrator and then rehydrating them in bourbon or Luxardo Maraschino liqueur makes for a tasty treat at the bottom of your cocktail glass.

Dehydrators can be found on eBay 24/7/365 for not a lot of money if you don't have one.

Katie M. Loeb
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#27 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 04:58 PM

Oh god those little Luxardo cherries are like crack to me "“A Luxardo cherry! A Luxardo cherry! My kingdom for a Luxardo cherry!” :wink:
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#28 slkinsey

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 05:01 PM

Here are some maraschino cherries I've had going since the early fall (NY State sour cherries put up with Maraska maraschino). This is a small jar I'm going to give as a gift. I probably have around 10 times more than that. They're getting very tasty, although not all that attractive (the color is going towards a washed out brownish purple).

Posted Image


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#29 ned

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 08:20 PM

What about the cherries floating in my bottle of Ginja, carried back from Portugal? I guess I should fish one out and see what it tastes like.

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Love those cherries.


My recipe involves travel too, either to Portugal or if you're short on time, to Lisbon liquors in Newark, NJ. At either destination you can buy a delicious bottle of Ginja: a cherry liquer that will have some and sometimes many whole cherries--pits included-at the bottom. They pack a powerful punch and are typically served in the Ginja but I've taken to garnishing Aviations and the occasional Shirley Temple with them.

Edited by ned, 15 December 2005 - 06:29 AM.

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#30 mkayahara

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:12 AM

I'm resurrecting this thread because, on a recent shopping expedition and a whim, I acquired a jar of sour cherries in syrup. What I'm curious about is whether there's any point draining off some or all of the syrup and refilling with rye (which is what I use to make my Manhattans). Or will that just leach the cherries of all their flavour, leaving me with nothing but a nice cherry-flavoured rye? (Not that that's a bad thing in its own right!)

Am I better off just picking them right out of the jar and plopping them directly into my cocktail glass?
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