Learn how to make your own maraschino cherries and enjoy over desserts or dress up your favorite cocktail or drink!
My desserts are happier with homemade maraschino cherries!
Maraschino cherries are a classic dessert topping you can enjoy on top of ice cream or your favorite sweet drink. And while you can buy this sugary fruit in a jar at the store, did you know you can make them yourself?
With this easy tutorial, you can learn to make your own maraschino cherries at home.
What are Maraschino Cherries?
While you’ve probably seen these bright red cherries on top of your favorite milkshake, you might not know the history of these sweet treats. These cherries originated in Italy, where they were soaked in maraschino liquor. During Prohibition, the manufacturing process changed to avoid using liquor in the recipe.
And do you know how commercially packaged maraschino cherries are made now?
These candied cherries are first brined in a bath of calcium salt to remove the color and flavor from the fresh cherries. Then, they are soaked in sugar syrup and injected with red dye. I’m not sure what you think, but that process doesn’t sound very healthy to me!
The next time you’re craving an ice cream sundae and are tempted to reach for that jar of cherries in your fridge, why not try this recipe instead?
You won’t believe how simple it is to make your own maraschino cherries. And you’ll know exactly what you’re eating each time you add them to your dessert or cocktail.
What You’ll Need to Make Maraschino Cherries:
- Fresh cherries with stems and pits removed
- Cherry juice
- Lemon juice
- White sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Almond Extract
- Cinnamon stick
How to Make Maraschino Cherries:
- Combine the sugar, cherry juice, and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is fully dissolved. This process will take between three and five minutes.
- Add the cherries to the sauce mixture and stir to coat the fruit in the sauce. Continue cooking the cherries for another eight to 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, almond extract, vanilla extract, and salt to the pan. Stir to combine.
- Allow the mixture to cool, then transfer the cooked cherries to a clean jar.
How to Store Homemade Maraschino Cherries
After making your own cherries, you can store them in two different ways. If you know you’ll be eating the cherries within two weeks, you can simply store the jar of cherries in the refrigerator.
But if you need to store the cherries for a longer period of time, a hot water bath is required to seal your jars. Start by pouring your cherries and juice into a clean, sterilized jar while the cherries are still hot. Place the lid on the jar and hand tighten each lid, making sure not to fully tighten it.
Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring the water to a boil. Place the jars in the boiling water. Once the water begins to boil again, set a timer for 10 minutes.
When the timer is up, use canning tongs to remove the hot jars from the water and place them in a cool, dry location where they can sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours. After that time, you can transfer the jars to a storage cabinet.
Once the sealed jar is open, it should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within two weeks.
Tips and Tricks
Once you make your own maraschino cherries, you’ll never want to purchase store-bought cherries again! And with these simple tips and tricks, this quick recipe is even simpler to make.
Use sweet cherries for best results. When browsing your store’s produce section, you’ll notice you can choose between sweet and sour cherry varieties. Sweet cherries, like Bing, Lambert, Royal Ann, or Tartarian, are the best choice for this recipe. Select cherries that are heart-shaped with firm flesh and a dark red coloring.
Pit the cherries without a cherry pitter. Using a cherry pitter is the easiest way to remove the pit from the fruit without damaging it. But it is possible to get the pit out without a pitter. Try these three methods for removing the pits from your cherries:
- Place one cherry at a time on its side on a cutting board. Use the side of a large chef’s knife to press down on the cherry to pop out the pit.
- Use a straw or chopstick to push the pit out of the cherry through the stem side
- Unbend a paper clip and stick the end into the pit, then pull to remove it from the cherry.
Use frozen cherries. When cherries aren’t in season, purchasing them fresh can get pretty expensive. Luckily, frozen cherries are another option. To use frozen cherries, start by taking the time to thaw the cherries. Place the frozen cherries in a mesh strainer and place the strainer over a bowl. Let them sit at room temperature for a few hours. When they’re thawed completely, you can make the recipe as written.
To learn more about the process of how maraschino cherries are made, check out this article.
Want to know how to make an alcohol version of maraschino cherries, here’s a simple recipe that should do the trick.
Other preserves and canning recipe ideas:
- Pepper Peach Jam
- Easy Fig Jam
- Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles
- Ploughman’s Pickle
- Pickling Spice Blend, perfect for making pickles
Make your own homemade maraschino cherries
- 1 pound cherries, stems removed and pitted
- 1 cup cherry juice
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Pinch of salt
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the sugar, cherry juice, and cinnamon stick, cooking until sugar dissolves and stirring frequently about 3 - 5 minutes.
- Add the pitted cherries, continue to cook over medium heat for 8 - 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and add in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt.
- If you are not using a hot water bath then allow to cool, and gently transfer to clean jar(s) and keep in jars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- If using the hot water bath to seal, transfer cherries and their liquid to clean, sterilized jars while cherries are hot. Do not fully tighten lids, just finger tight.
- Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Place jars carefully in the stockpot, bring water back to a boil and process for 10 minutes. For more details on canning and hot water baths, this is a great article to reference.
Serving size is 1 cherry.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 64 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 19Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g
Originally posted 8/16/2019; Updated 5/24/2021
Stacey is a Southern girl with a taste for travel, thriving on the discovery of the world through food. After spending many years traveling and living overseas, she’s now back home in her beloved deep south enjoying life with her three little ones and loving the adventure. She’s a food stylist and food photographer, as well as, the creative behind Little Figgy Food, where she loves to inspire others to try new flavors and foodie techniques.