Fresh Maraschino Cherries!
When I was a kid, maraschino cherries were the ultimate treat. My hippie do-goody parents never let me have the good things in life, like Twinkies and those little hot dogs that came in cans. But on special occasions, I got to have Shirley Temples – soda, corn syrup AND food coloring, what could be better? Needless to say, I’m not putting that crap in my body any more, and it certainly isn’t going in my daughter’s body, so I learned to make homemade maraschino cherries, and it’s easy.
Now, of course, I like them in an Old Fashioned, but these are just as good on sundaes, in cakes and even in a Shirley Temple.
1 pound cherries with the stem on. The dark redder the better.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Maraschino liqueur. (No, don’t substitute. Find the real stuff. But if you MUST, some sort of sweetish bourbon or brandy would be best.)
Get cherries. I just go to the backyard and pick them off my tree, but you can get cherries anywhere. Get dark red ones, and you want the stem on! Start with a pound, but you may find yourself making more.
Pit the cherries, or else someone will get a hard surprise!
Pit the cherries. How? Use a cherry pitter, if you don’t have one, get one, they’re cheap and easy.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, 1 T (or so) Vanilla and a shake of cinnamon.
Cherry pits have an almond taste that is important in making maraschinos!
Simmer over low heat until it’s combined, then throw in all the cherry pits (which have a distinct almondy flavor that you want) and simmer on low for 5 mins or so. You do not want it to boil or you will make hard candy. Remove the pits from the syrup.
Add all the cherries, and continue simmering for another 2 minutes or so.
Add the liqueur and simmer for another 2 minutes or so. (This cooks off the alcohol so that kids can eat them without getting drunk, which might be funny but is a pretty bad idea anyway.)
Ready to process, filled to the brim with cherry yumminess!
Now you’re ready for the canning portion of the show. This will probably fill two STERILIZED pint-sized mason jars. Scoop the cherries in until the jars are pretty much full. Then pour the liquid over the cherries until it is almost to the top.
Put on BRAND NEW canning lids, fasten them down tightly and submerge them in boiling water for 10 minutes to process them.
As they cool, the lids should make that awesome “ping” sound that means you’re safe and ready to go.
Now, don’t eat the scary orbs of artificial ickiness ever again, okay?