Homemade Maraschino Cherries

I don’t care how gauche or tacky they are, I LOVE maraschino cherries. I love them so much that I even eat the stems, in fact, crunching through the woody stems may be my favorite part.

My love affair with maraschinos dates back to our first meeting — I was seven years old and my family had gone out for dinner to one of our favorite restaurants, The Little Bear, a then-newish Chinese restaurant perched on the side of a stream in Woodstock, NY. My parents let me order my first Shirley Temple.

I’ve always had a much larger than average sweet tooth so the pink-tinted beverage was like heaven in a glass… And the crowning glory was the big maraschino cherry perched daintily atop the ice, practically glowing an unnatural and alluring shade of red. I made short work of it, stem and all.

sweet and sober

And I’ve never looked back since. But I have since become much more aware of all the yucky, no doubt noxious ingredients in most maraschino cherries – red dye number 5 million, high fructose corn syrup, etc., etc. And I have always wanted to try making maraschinos myself so when I saw this simple recipe on the blog In Jennie’s Kitchen, I knew the time had come.

Cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I ran out the next day and purchased a big load of cherries at Sunfrost and a cherry pitter from the new kitchen shop in town, Diane’s Kitchen.

Cherries get to know the new pitter by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

The process of making my own maraschinos was surprisingly quick and easy. The pitting did not take long though I was a bit surprised by how violent it seemed. No doubt this impression was enhanced by cherry juice’s strong resemblance to blood… Our sink and the surrounding areas looked like the set of Apocalypse Now by the time I was done. And my apron will never be the same…

Cherry pitting carnage by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

But it took mere minutes to juice the lemons while I heated the cherry juice, water and sugar until the sugar had dissolved completely.

Juicing the lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Then I tossed in the cherries, lemon juice and pure almond extract and cooked them briefly – no need to cook for very long if you plan to can them since the cherries will get cooked for 10 minutes during the hot water process.

Cooking the cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Meanwhile, I sterilized my jars in my canning pot and got things ready for the brief canning that followed. 15 minutes later, two jars of maraschinos were cooling on the counter. And now we can set sail on the Good Ship Lollipop!

Homemade maraschino cherries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

A note that this is all a far cry from real maraschino cherries which were originally made from a type of sour cherry grown in Croatia called a Marasca cherry. The Croats crushed their Marascas to make a sweet liqueur which I am guessing derived its almond-like flavor from the cherry pits. And the cherries that were then preserved in that liqueur were called Maraschino cherries. But since I am not interested in liquor-soaked cherries, the bastardization does not bother me one bit.

Another important note — you should enter Can You Can It? – my awesome canning contest. You could win a set of wonderful Weck canning jars or a copy of Put ‘Em Up – my favorite canning and preserving cookbook! But hurry up – the deadline to enter is Wednesday, August 17th.

Can You Can It? logo by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Homemade Maraschino Cherries (adapted from Nick Mautone’s book Raising the Bar)
Makes one quart

* 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
* 1/2 cup (125 ml) black cherry or concord grape juice
* 1/2 cup (4 ounces) natural cane sugar
* Freshly juice (3 tablespoons/1 1/2 ounces/50 ml) of 1 lemon
* 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 2 cups (9 1/2 ounces/266 grams) sweet bing cherries, pitted


1. Add the water, cherry or grape juice and sugar to a 2-quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and let cook 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice, extract and cherries. Cook 5 minutes to let the cherries absorb the flavors, then remove the pot from the heat.

2. Transfer to a clean sterilized jar and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for long-term storage, or just put the jar in the fridge if you plan on using them within one month.

You might also like these cherry recipes from other folks:

Or these yummy desserts from The Garden of Eating:

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Dale O.

Have always loved these cherries, very tasty and delicious!

Pat W.
Pat W.3 years ago

I love the type of cherries and gonna try this recipe!

ii q.
g d c.3 years ago


ii q.
g d c.3 years ago


ii q.
g d c.3 years ago


paul m.
paul m.3 years ago

Nice one ....Thank you,,,

Lynde T.
Lynde T.3 years ago

I want to try this

Charlene S.
Charla D.4 years ago

This is great! I had no idea a healthy recipe for maraschino cherries existed. Thanks

Nicole G.
Nicole Gorman4 years ago

Awesome recipe!! Thanks!!

Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson4 years ago

Sounds too good to be true...must try! Thanks!