Longer Reads

Make Your Own Maraschino Cherries

Oh, the maraschino cherry…cocktail garnish, sundae topper, an American delight – stuffed with chemicals, food dyes, and frightening preservatives.

I used to love those neon-red orbs, sitting oh-so-innocently at the bottom of my drink or leaving its shiny red streaks across the top of my ice cream. Then one day, I looked at the ingredients:  Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate, FD&C Red #40, and sulfur dioxide.


Determined not to live maraschino cherry-less for the rest of my life, I set out to make my own, healthier version. Several experiments later, I have found my favorite (and easiest) method, adapted from a recipe I found in the NY Times.

I bottle my cherries in those old fashioned Ball jars, for a touch of retro fun. I share this recipe with you now in hope that you will take your cocktails and sundaes to the next level of healthiness, and share the gift of these cherries with friends. Jars of these guys make great conversation pieces, and I promise you’ll be really popular at parties.

I double, triple, or quadruple this recipe to make sure I have enough for myself and gifts for friends. The original recipe calls for stemming the cherries, but I leave them on since I think they look prettier that way. You’ll want to get a Cherry Pitter for this, which also comes in handy when adding cherries to fruit salad, yogurt, or anything else you want cherries in.

Maraschino Cherries
Adapted from the NY Times

Time: 20 minutes, plus 2 days’ macerating

1 cup maraschino liqueur (I like Luxardo)

1 pint sour cherries, pitted

Bring maraschino liqueur to a simmer in a small pot. Turn off heat and add cherries. Let mixture cool, then store in a jar in refrigerator for at least 2 days before using, and up to several months.

Yield: About 1 pint.