Every Christmas Eve when we make Old-Fashioneds, I swear that I’ll make my own maraschino cherries when they finally come into season and this year I finally did. I’m talking about the real thing — just cherries soaked in maraschino liqueur — a clear, bittersweet, Croatian concoction that has nothing to do with red dye # 2 or artificial sweetners. Luxardo makes real maraschino cherries in a jar but they’re expensive and hard to find. If you make your own, go to the farmer’s market and do a taste test. Last weekend at the University Farmers Market, Tonnemaker Farm had at least five different varieties, each with its own distinct flavor. I chose the Sonata variety. It’s a sweet cherry but very firm and more acidic than the others making it more like the commonly used sour cherries. Since this recipe doesn’t call for any sugar, I decided a little sweetness couldn’t hurt. You can use other types of booze as well. I just bought a bottle of Cherry Heering and might try that next time.
Maraschinos make an excellent garnish in all kinds of cocktails but they’re also easy to drop on top of an adult-style ice cream sundae.
Maraschino Cherry Recipe
1 pint sweet or sour cherries (about 2 cups)
1 cup Maraschino liqueur, Cherry Heering or Brandy
Wash and remove stems and pits from cherries. (I know the cherry in the photo has a stem. If I could figure out how to remove the pit without removing the stem, believe me, I would).
Bring the liqueur to a simmer in a small pot. Turn off heat and add cherries.
Let cool then store in the fridge for up to several months.
I love pickles and quick pickle recipes are turning up everywhere. When I saw one for pickled cherries in the June issue of Bon Appetit, I knew I had to try it. The original recipe says to simmer the cherries in the pickling juice but I had some liquid left over and just poured it over some uncooked fruit and the results were crisper and just as good. Next time this is what I’ll do….
Pickled Cherry Recipe
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 t whole black peppercorns
1 t coriander seeds
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Bring first 5 ingredients and 3/4 cup water to boil in medium saucepan, stirring sugar to dissolve. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a medium bowl.
Place cherries in a clean 1 qt. mason jar. Pour pickling liquid over cherries to cover.
Cover and chill. Store in the fridge.
Use pickled cherries pretty much the same way you use other pickles. I make this appetizer with La Panzanella croccantini, prosciutto, Port Madison chevre and a pickled cherry on top. Since I used sweet cherries, mine were sweetish but still plenty of good pickley bite.
I posted a cherry salsa recipe last year that’s still one of my all time favorite ways to serve cherries, especially alongside grilled salmon or chicken.
I almost always like sweet flavors of fruit balanced out with something sour. Unless of course, I’m eating cherries straight from the bowl. Nature’s sweetness just can’t be improved upon. Lucky for us that cherries love our Northwest weather. This year we may all suffer from Vitamin D deficiency but damn, we sure are eating well.