Until about last week, I really had no idea what a maraschino cherry was. I mean, I've had a few before, and I know they look like cherries, but they don't exactly taste like cherries, do they? I think that's why people either love them or hate them; because they're just different. When I was a kid, I thought of them like candy cherries that you occasionally find in your soda or on your ice cream when you're lucky. :) I liked them, but I didn't even think they were real cherries, which says something...
When I "needed" maraschino cherries the other day - because let's face it, you never really need them, you just want them - my crazy DIY mind started wondering whether there was a way to make them at home. That's when I found out that there is, and that (surprise, surprise) the store-bought kind is just about as chemical-ly and artificial as food can be. I won't give you the dirty details here, because there's google for that, but basically I decided right then and there I was making them at home.
So here's the secret to these - almond extract! Think about it; doesn't that remind you of that signature flavor maraschino cherries have? Maybe I'm crazy, but it made total sense to me! And in case you were already thinking I'm crazy for making my own maraschino cherries, here's the scoop: you can make these faster than it would take you to run to the store and buy them. Then you can eat them all, not feel like you just ingested a ton of chemicals, and proceed to use the leftover almondy-cherry juice in what I like to call a lightened-up Shirley Temple. Juice + club soda + DIY maraschino cherry = what I've been drinking for the past week. Trust me, this is the way to do it. ;)
DIY Maraschino Cherries
Homemade Maraschino Cherries are so easy to make and taste way better than store-bought. Mix them into drinks, garnish your ice cream, or just eat them by the handful!
- Yield: about 1 large mason jar 1x
- 4 fluid ounces (½ cup) water
- 4 fluid ounces (½ cup) cherry juice*
- 3 ½ ounces (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- small pinch salt
- ½ pound sweet cherries**, pitted
- 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
- In a small, non-reactive saucepan, combine the water, cherry juice, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.
- Lower the heat to a tad above it's lowest setting (I used level 2 on my stove) and add cherries. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, stirring a few times in the process. The idea is just for the cherries to soak up some of the flavors, so be careful not to really cook them, which will make them soft and wrinkly.
- Remove from heat and add almond extract. Transfer to a tightly-lidded jar and let cool before refrigerating.***
*I found 100% cherry juice at Trader Joe's.
**I used Rainier cherries; Bing or any other sweet kind should be perfect too.
***If you're a canning pro (unlike me), you can go ahead and can these for longer shelf-life. If you just put them in a jar like I did, they should last around a couple weeks to a month.
If your cherries get discolored after a few days, don't worry about it; that's normal.
And the #1 thing I do with my caramel sauce... make DIY Iced Caramel Lattes. Oh yes :)
These will get you through the summer, guaranteed.
What's the craziest thing you've ever DIYed? For me it's always food, but I've seen some other amazing DIY projects too. I'm thinking these cherries are probably pretty high up there on my list! Feel free to share your DIY accomplishments in the comments section below, and if you have a photo, link it up!