A Japanese legend tells of a warrior who became so old that he outlived his family. His most precious memory was of playing underneath a cherry tree, but when it died, he was so devastated that he wanted to die too, despite the fact that a new tree had been planted nearby. That winter, the old warrior begged the tree to blossom once more and vowed that he would take his own life if his wish be granted. It was and the old man committed hara-kiri under the dead tree, his spirit and his blood soaking down to the roots to color, forever, the fruit of the tree. It is said that the tree blooms every year on the old warrior’s birthday.
Years ago Maraschino cherries were steeped in 70% proof Maraschino cordial made from the juice of the Italian Dalmatian Marasca wild cherry.
Today the commercial process puts the cherries into a soup of of sodium metabisulfate, calcium chloride, and citric acid which serves as a brining liquid – then it’s soaked in corn syrup and a fructose solution. The cherries are artificially flavored and dyed red or green. Now that you know this, wouldn’t you prefer to make your own?
Home Made Maraschino Cherries
- 2 liters of water
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- 2 kg pitted sweet cherries
- 2 kg sugar
- 3 cups water
- Juice of one lemon
- 30 ml red food coloring
- 30 almond extract
- In a large pot boil water and salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes – pour this over the pitted sweet cherries.
- Cover and set aside 12 hours or overnight.
- Drain cherries, discard the brine and rinse well in cold water.
- Set aside.
- In a medium-sized pot, mix the sugar, the lemon juice and the red food coloring together and just-just bring to a boil, stirring well to dissolve sugar.
- Remember remove from heat as soon as the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour over the cherries, cover, and let stand for 24 hours.
- Drain cherries but reserve the juice.
- Set cherries aside.
- Bring the reserved juice to a boil again, remove from heat and stir in the almond extract that you pour over the cherries.
- Pack the cherries and the juice in hot sterilized jars and seal well.