Monday, September 5, 2011

Zombies Stock Shelves of Local Grocery Store!!! - Maraschino Cherries

OK, now that I have your attention...   ;)

Back in the olden days (pre-prohibition) a Maraschino cherry was a Marasca cherry soaked in Maraschino liqueur from Dalmatia.  Then prohibition happened and screwed everything (not just cherries) up.  You see, when prohibition was repealed the FDA decided that importing Maraschino cherries from Italy & Croatia was hurting the American Cherry growers.  SO, as the FDA is want to do when money is involved, they redefined what a maraschino cherry was.  Meaning an artificially flavored, dyed cherry "product".  Thus rendering it about as natural as Cheese Whiz. 

Let me give you a quick rundown of the current process in the U.S.  My grandmother worked for the Cherry Growers in The Dalles so I have seen it all my life and, consequently, haven't eaten an American Maraschino Cherry since I was about 7.   First, the perfectly delicious cherries are soaked in a combination of sodium metabisulfate, calcium chloride, with a hint of citric acid for weeks.  During this process they loose ALL their flavor & color, turning completely white.  Yep, they become Ghost cherries....  Mere shadows of their original selves, devoid of anything that could possibly identify them other than their shape.

Next they are soaked in corn syrup and fructose solution;  MMMMM cause they have to add some sort of sweetness back to them.  Then, as if that wasn't enough, they are packed into jars along with the appropriate amount of artificial flavoring in a pathetic attempt to copy the flavor of a Marasca cherry from Dalmatia, which is sort of a Cherry/Almond type of flavor.

Finally, to add insult to injury, these zombie cherries are dyed red or green (though this usually occurs during the corn syrup/fructose soaking).  Originally they were using Red 4, which was banned in 1960, but the ban was lifted in 1965 specifically for Maraschino Cherries because they were not considered an actual food.  I'll say!  Be that as it may, most companies have since moved to Allura Red 40, which on the whole isn't that much better, but still a little safer than Red 4 which has been banned from cosmetics completely due to it's carcinogenic effects.

So I propose making your own Maraschino cherries.  It's quite simple really.  All you need are cherries and some Maraschino Liquor (which is made from Marasca cherries).  :)    They may not be as pretty a shade of neon red when your done, but they will taste 100% better than the zombie cherries.  Technically, you should be using a sour cherry, but this works just as well with sweet ones too.
Maraschino Cherries

Bing Cherries (though sour cherries work better)
10 oz jelly jars
1/8 tsp Citric acid /Sour Salt per jar (Omit if using sour cherries)
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Lids for jelly jars
a Refrigerator

Simply wash the cherries.

Pit the cherries with the pitter, keeping as many stems as possible.

Stuff into 10 oz Jelly Jars (fill as many jars as you like)

Sprinkle Citric Acid over the cherries then fill the jar with Maraschino liqueur.

Secure the lids tightly.

Refrigerate for 1 month in order for the cherries to absorb the maximum amount of flavor from the liqueur.

Enjoy with your favorite cocktail or for your Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (Which I will be posting about over at Corningware411 tomorrow)

Repeat after me, just say NO to Zombie Cherries.


P.S. Many apologies for my absence, I have just been really busy in the tech geek world lately....  I have a ton of stuff to share, (like Clam Bacon Quiche, Palmier, Spice Cocoa Cake, and Malted Brownies) but no time to actually sit down and write posts or reduce photos and such....  This particular post was started back on the 16th of August and I am just now finishing it.  LOL


Dajana said...

I was holiday in Zadar (Dalmatia) this year, the place where the best and original maraska cherries are still grown. A friend gave me a jar of jam as well as a bottle of liquor she made with them. Unfortunately, I arrived only after the cherry season was over and didn't find any fresh ones.

Patti T. said...

Nice to see you back Shane. I saw a program one time where they were making maraschino cherries and have been turned off of them since then. Your recipe sounds delicious. It also took me a long time to enjoy whiskey after touring the distilleries in Kentucky.