Prep School: How to Make Homemade Maraschino Cherries
To me, being aware of what isn’t in your food is just as important as what is – and this is the cornerstone of what Picture-Perfect Meals is all about. Product Purity has been my guiding principle from Day 1 and I seek out ingredients that are free of what I call the UnFab Four (high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, added MSG and hydrogenated oils). So, let’s talk about commercial maraschino cherries. Have you ever looked at the ingredient listing? Well, it reads something like this: Cherries, Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, High Fructose Corn Syrup (boo! hiss!), Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, FD&C Red #40 (this petroleum-based product gives them that unnatural neon color) and Sulfer Dioxide.
Seriously? All that to sweeten a cherry for my Manhattan? No, thanks. That freaky red color doesn’t exist in nature for a reason. But here’s the good news: Homemade maraschino cherries are a snap to make. Normally, I don’t believe in buying one-trick pony gadgets, but a cherry pitter is an exception and well worth the few bucks you’ll spend for the ease and amount of time you’ll save prepping your cherries.
Here’s how to make (an adult version of) maraschino cherries:
Wash and pit 2 cups of cherries (I like to leave the stems on). In a jar or bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of sugar with 2 cups of maraschino liqueur*. Stir in 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Add the cherries and soak overnight.
Great for cocktails, fruit salads and topping ice cream sundaes.
*I buy Luxardo - a clear, maraschino liqueur made in Italy. Believe me, if my ABC Store can get it in, I am certain yours can as well if they don’t normally carry it, although they made need to special order it.
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