Today I am sharing a really fun recipe, and one that you’ll want to make if you plan on enjoying many cocktails this New Year’s Eve. Maraschino cherries are a key ingredient for many amazing cocktails. And even in so many mocktails like the famous Shirley Temple (one of my faves as a kid, and one I still love today!) But, traditional maraschino cherries are notorious for having ingredients that are not good for you, including red #40.
So, what actually is the flavor of Maraschino Cherries? Traditionally, Maraschino cherries are “cherries which have been dyed red, impregnated with sugar, and packed in a sugar syrup flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor”, according to Wikipedia. Maraschino cherries have always been known for their signature red color and sweet flavor profile. But, the color just comes from artificial dye, which isn’t necessary at all!
I use Suncore Foods Red Food Dye, which is just 100% organic beet root powder, that’s it! And while you notice it doesn’t turn the cherries bright red, that is because I used bing cherries here because that’s what I had on hand. If you were to use rainier cherries (which is a lighter cherry) and also what traditional maraschino cherries are made with, then you’d get a more bright red color!
But, because it’s the middle of winter and I could not find a single fresh cherry at the store, I actually used organic frozen cherries for this recipe, yes frozen cherries! I always have organic cherries in my freezer that I use for smoothies, so I thought why not give them a try here, as they are already pitted. And they actually worked great! If you are going to use frozen cherries though, just make sure you thaw them for 24 hours overnight in the fridge in a strainer so the excess liquid will strain.
Next, I made a simple syrup using organic cane sugar and water, and I added in the Suncore Foods Red Food Dye, which gives the syrup a red color. I heated that until the the sugar dissolved, and the beet powder was fully incorporated. Then, I added a little bit of organic Maraschino Cherry Flavor Extract. This extract tastes exactly like the real thing, and it eliminated more ingredients and more work, which makes this Homemade Maraschino Cherries recipe super quick and easy. After stirring in the extract, then I added the cherries.
I packaged the cherries into cute little glass jars, as I had them leftover from my Caramel Sauce Holiday Gifts. The jars I used are 7-ounce jars and I got 4 jars from this recipe. And, I even gave a couple neighbors a jar of cherries as well, these would make an amazing hostess gift if you are attending a New Year’s Eve party!
Homemade Maraschino Cherries
Makes 1 pound
1 pound organic cherries, pitted
226 grams (1 cup) organic cane sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon Suncore Foods Red Food Dye
1/2 teaspoon organic Maraschino Cherry Flavor Extract
In a 2-quart saucepan, add the cane sugar, water, and red dye. Heat over medium heat and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and beet powder is incorporated completely. Remove from the heat.
Add in the maraschino cherry extract, and stir to combine completely. Add in the cherries, and stir completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
High Altitude — Follow the recipe as noted.