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Make your own Maraschino cherries! Adapted from Meal Master. I have not tried this yet, so putting it here for safekeeping! The sweet sundae-topper has its origins in Yugoslavia and northern Italy. For centuries, merchants had used marascas - small, bitter, black wild cherries - to make a sweet liqueur. Part of the flavor came from crushed cherry stones, which have an almond-like flavor. Marascara cherries preserved in the cherry liqueur were imported into the United States in the 1890s. These maraschino cherries were an expensive luxury served at the finest hotels. With typical ingenuity, American cherry processors figured out a way to make a less expensive version. They used Royal Anne cherries, less liqueur, and almond oil instead of crushed cherry pits. In the 1920s, alcohol was eliminated altogether when horticulturalist Ernest Wiegand found a way to preserve cherries using brine instead of alcohol. The American version of the maraschino became so popular that it completely replaced the foreign import. Cherries are grown in several regions of this country, but seventy percent of the cherries produced in the United States come from four states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah). Maraschini cherries are also produced in New England and the Mid Atlantic.
- Soak pitted cherries overnight in heated brine.
- The next morning, drain cherries. Rinse them in cold water. Combine cherries, water, sugar, lemon juice, and red food coloring. Heat to the boiling point.
- Let stand about 24 hours. Again, boil juices, pour over cherries and let stand 24 hours. Bring to boil again. Add almond extract and cherries. Pack in hot sterilized jars and seal.
- The Ball Blue book says boil this in a water bath-pints-20 minutes, quarts-25 minutes.