I told one of my friends recently that I made my own maraschino cherries. She gaped at me and said, “Why?”
To understand my approach to food, it’s important to know why I am going to all the trouble of making the things I do. I’m not a foodie, or gourmet, in the sense that my central interest is having spectacular food experiences. I am interested in taking control of the sources and preparation of my food as much as I can. While I have been figuring out how to do that, I have rediscovered real taste and how much I enjoy cooking. And I have accidentally stumbled on spectacular food experiences.
Ingredients used in making maraschino cherries include high fructose corn syrup, a reliable marker of industrial food. So when the weekly Poulsbo Farmer’s Market newsletter mentioned maraschino cherries for sale one week this summer, I made sure to pick up a few pounds. I meticulously soaked them in pickling salt brine for a day before putting them in simple syrup. Those cherries lasted less than a week. Since then I’ve been skipping the salt brine and going straight to simple syrup. I’m trying batches of different flavors, including almond extract, Amaretto liquor, and cherry schnapps. The color comes out more burgundy than pink, and the taste lacks that sharp chemical edge that distinguishes the commercial variety, but people seem to enjoy them on ice cream!
Pit two pounds of cherries. In a small pot on the stove combine one and a half cups of water with two cups of sugar. Boil just until sugar is melted. Let cool, and add the juice of one lemon and one teaspoon of flavoring (almond extract or amaretto liquor). Place in clean jars. Keeps for about a month, if they last that long.