I know, I know, all I ever talk about any more is cherries, but isn’t it comforting to know that despite all the changes life can throw at you, some things remain constant? One such thing being cherry season which always comes around this time of year without fail.
I specifically get excited about sour cherry season not just because sour cherries are the most useful for doing anything with, but because it means I can once again make my yearly pilgrimage up to Cherry Tyme in Leona Valley for a day of cherry picking. For the past three years I have followed this tradition, and I don’t plan to change anything this year.
I served up this recipe for homemade maraschino cherries in a cocktail called the “The Corpse Reviver #2″ at my sisters wedding last year and it was a big hit. Since then, people haven’t quit bugging me for more info on how I make the cherries, so here’s everything I know:
Pre-Temperance Maraschino Cherries
- Sour cherries with seeds and stems
- Luxardo or Maraska Brand Maraschino Liqueur
- Glass canning jars like this, or you can use the half pint sized ones which make nice gifts
- Pick out the largest, most beautiful, firm, and intact cherries you have and rinse them thoroughly without bruising them.
- Pack them into your jars as efficiently as possible.
- Pour your Maraschino liqueur over the cherries until they are covered by 1/4 inch.
- Seal the lids tightly.
- Put them away in a cool dark place.
- Inspect once a week for the first month or two, flipping the jars over each time you put them away.
- If lids are bulging with pressure, loosen, and let gas escape, then re-seal (this is normal).
- Cherries should be ready in about three months.
- Through extensive testing I have found that the Balaton variety of sour cherries is the most suitable for this recipe. Morello would be my second choice, and Montmorency would be a distant third. I found that the Balatons were the only cherry that still looked good after a year of pickling, while the others ended up somewhat shriveled and ugly.
- I like to keep the pits and stems intact because the pits give a nice almond flavor and the stems look nice. If you don’t want them for a specific application you can remove them at that time.
- If you can’t wait three months, an expedited method is explained here.
- These cherries are delicious for eating straight, garnishing cocktails and ice cream, and even as an ice cream ingredient along with chunks of chocolate truffles. Yum!
- For more info on the history of Maraschino cherries don’t forget to read my other post “Sour Cherry Pickin’” (same link as above).