This article in The Washington Post on homemade cocktail ingredients caught my eye a while ago. I've just been waiting for cherries to show up at the farmers market to make these preserved cherries. (While I am calling them maraschinos, they're not made with Marasca cherries or Maraschino liqueur, but Bings and almond extract. The almond extract gives it that flavor we associate with jarred red marachinos, but that's all they really have in common.)
Pitting the cherries was the most taxing part of the recipe (I don't own a pitter). The ingredients are simple and the procedure is straightforward, with a brief brine that is followed by a soak in almond sugar syrup. The resulting cherries are less sweet and crisp than the neon red maraschino cherries we are used to; although they share the same cloying candied almond allure, they also let more of the original taste and texture of the cherries come through. The process takes two days, and when the cherries were finished, I canned them as if they were pickles.
We enjoyed Old Fashioneds (bourbon with a splash each of Angostura bitters and sugar syrup, garnished with cherries and twists) made with the resulting cherries and syrup. The leftover syrup is also excellent over fresh fruit, yogurt, or ice cream.
- How much space does it need?
A small bowl in the fridge.
- How much time does it take?
Two days total, about 20 minutes active time, plus a loooong time for pitting the cherries.
- Does it smell?
- Does it look grody?
No, in fact the liquid from the cherries is a beautiful clear ruby red.
- Does it need special equipment?
- Is it worth it to do this by hand?
The cherry-pitting might be a deal-breaker. I'll definitely make a couple jars a year, but I also might invest in a cherry pitter.