Once you experience the taste and texture of true maraschino cherries — tart red cherries simmered and aged in a slightly sweet cherry liqueur — you’ll never go back to those day-glow jarred red marbles sold in supermarkets and liquor stores.
Trouble is, it’s hard to find the top-shelf Luxardo-brand cherries. And if you want to make your own, you might even have a tough time locating Luxardo or Marasca liqueur. A better bet is to look for Kirschwasser — roughly half the price of the other liqueurs — and give it some added sweetness and depth by using Spiker’s Sour Cherry Plum shrub. (Sour Cherry Plum shrub is made from Michigan sour cherries, dried plums, and aged for a month to develop a rich, deep flavor.)
Prep time is less than 10 minutes. But let the cherries sit at least a week to develop the flavor. Due to the alcohol content, you should be able to store the cherries in a cool, dark space (or a fridge) for months.
Spiker's homemade maraschino cherries
- 4 tablespoons Spiker's Sour Cherry Plum Shrub or more to taste
- 1 cup Kirschwasser We used Hiram Walker
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1 pint fresh or frozen tart red cherries 2 cups measure
- In a small saucepan, put the sugar, Sour Cherry Plum shrub, and Kirschwasser. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve. Then turn on the heat to low, stirring constantly until the liquid comes to a gentle simmer. You don't want it to boil.
- Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and place on a trivet or pot holder. Add the cherries gently to avoid splashing. Stir gently to bathe all of the cherries in the liquid, and allow them to cool. (Check them every now and then and give an occasional stir to expedite the dissolving of the sugar.)
- Wash a quart-size Mason jar and pour all of the liquid and the cherries in. The contents will come up to approximately the 3-cup mark on the jar. Seal with a lid and ring and store in a cool (50 degree) space such as a root cellar, or in your refrigerator.
- If you're storing at room temperature, give the jar a jiggle every couple of days. The cherries will float to the top, and although the alcohol content should be an adequate preservative it is best to agitate the contents to ensure that the organic matter in the jar doesn't settle in to a position where it's exposed to too much oxygen.