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Luxardo Maraschino cherries not at all worth the price

I knew homemade cocktail cherries would undoubtedly be better, but I figured I would give Luxardo Maraschino cherries a try due to the convenience factor. I must say, I feel quite the fool for dishing out $20 for a jar of these.

I found the taste only marginally different from the average jar of neon red maraschinos. For me, the two main advantages are the more natural dark red color, and the slightly meatier texture. Apparently I should have heeded my doubts upon seeing from the label that these are simply cherries in sugar syrup.

My advice is give all maraschino cherries, including the more genuine and highly priced Luxardo ones, a pass. Next time, I will try making my own cocktail cherries, perhaps soaking some bing cherries in brandy.

If you disagree, or have found some worthwhile jarred cherries, feel free to reply.

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  1. I don't doubt that homemade cherries would be better, but I love the Luxardo cherries. They have a nice texture and are a big step up from the candied horrors that most bars use. They have real cherry flavor too, which interacts well with the spirits in my Manhattan.

    Yes, they are expensive, though I get them for closer to $15 per jar.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sku

      can you direct me to where you buy them?

        1. re: NINII

          www.thebostonshaker.com. Support a small business.

          www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Agreed. I wasn't aware that he sold 'em.

        2. Maraschino cherries may have their place after all. Personally, I use my own brandied cherries whenever I'm making a drink, but if one needed a cherry for a non-alcoholic drink, that would most certainly rule out brandied cherries...

          1. I agree, was underwhelmed by the Luxardo cherries. Last Christmas they had them here in boston essentially for free. It was buy a bottle of Luxardo Marashino liquor and get two bottles of cherries for free.

            I far prefer my homemade cherries.

            45 Replies
            1. re: StriperGuy

              Striper, any chance you could post the redipe for your cherries? I've been wanting to make some, but haven't found a decent recipe.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                Cocktail Cherry Recipe:
                - Blanch cherries in very Salty boiling water for 4 minutes
                - Rinse and soak for a few minutes in cool water to get rid of salt
                - Place cherries in large jar
                Add healthy amounts of the following: star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, anise seed, fennel seed
                - Make some REALLY concentrated red hibiscus tea (this is to help the cherries keep their color) and add 1/2 cup to the bottle
                - If you can find some good cherry juice add a cup to the jar
                - Fill the rest of the jar with vodka or cheap brandy
                - Add sugar to taste
                - Wait at least a month


                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    They are spicy, awesome, and blow away any other cocktail cherry I have ever had.

                    The juice in the jar itself makes a delicious addition to drinks as well.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I hope this doesn't sound like a dumb blonde question...but why do you soak the cherries in salted water first? and how salty?

                      1. re: katidyd

                        The recipe above is my own creation based on several other recipes I read. Short answer: I am not exactly sure why, but several recipes I saw suggest that. I will also add that the finished cherries have a very nice firm texture and I think the salt water blanch has something to do with it.

                        I can only imagine that the salt water blanch draws some water out of the cherries, firming them up, and then also makes the skins more permeable to the spices/booze. But I am only guessing here.

                        How salty? I probably did a 1/2 cup of kosher salt to 2 quarts of water.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          Thanks much - if our farmers' market still has cherries when I go today I will definitely be making this this weekend.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            StriperGuy - do you pit the cherries? How long do you think they would stay good? I'm mad I just saw this and now have to wait until next cherry season to try!

                            1. re: kayowinter

                              No need to pit. And with all the alcohol and sugar they keep semi-indefinitely. Certainly good for a year or so...

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                we talking bing cherries or sour cherries?

                                1. re: Produce Addict

                                  I used bing. I would like to try sour. I think if I try sour I may go lighter on the spices cause they are a bit more delicate and have their own delicious flavor.

                    2. re: StriperGuy

                      Not bad to add 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice too.

                      Other optional additions:

                      - Orgeat syrup or almond extract

                        1. re: Meann

                          So glad you liked them, they are easily the best cocktail cherries I have ever had.

                        2. re: StriperGuy

                          Are fresh sour cherries essential for this recipe, or do any fresh cherries, like Bing, work?


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            As I said above... I used bing. I would like to try sour. I think if I try sour I may go lighter on the spices cause they are a bit more delicate and have their own delicious flavor.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              funny that we both asked this question at the same time! thanks striper guy for the response. i've made brandied cherries with sour cherries (no recipe, just put them in brandy) and they were good but not very firm, so i am excited to try your recipe.

                              1. re: Produce Addict

                                I have to try sour cherries. I assume the salt water will firm those up the same way it worked with the bing cherries.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  I could be wrong, but I think the firmness has to do with the liquid essentially dehydrating the cherries somewhat as they pickle. Maybe, since you're doing whole unpitted cherries, blanching makes the skin a little more amenable to osmosis.

                                  I've been doing pitted ones, without any pre-treatment, and they come out perfectly firm. I figured out to only put the spices in for half as long as you do to avoid them becoming more like bitters.

                                  1. re: ted

                                    Hmmmmm, interesting. Mine are way spicy punchy so I could definitely see straining out the spices after a few days for a milder cherry.

                                    1. re: ted

                                      Haven't tried the salt blanching yet, but I always pit mine (other than my first batch) - they do soften up a little more, but it's much easier to deal with eating, and they're much easier to pit when they're fresh.

                                      I do usually leave the stems and pits in the jar for flavor, though.

                                      1. re: will47

                                        I've made two batches this summer. One is pretty much exactly as Striper describes in his original recipe, with vodka. Then I decided to do another batch, varying the ingredients, but adhering to the method with the salt water boil etc. but not using the tea. Here's what I added to the jar: fennel seed, cinnamon stick, whole allspice, cardamom pods, slices of fresh ginger, a vanilla bean, and slices from a habanero pepper (!) and sugar. As I say, skipped the tea, but used 1.5 Cups of cherry juice and the rest was brandy. Just tried one, and pretty darned good, gotta say... might add a bit more habanero for a bit more kick. So glad I saw this thread in cherry season!

                                        1. re: gordonb810

                                          Glad you like em. I have been working on mine all summer. They are tasty.

                                          I like the addition of fresh ginger.

                                          Some recipes advocate pitting, but then cracking the pits and including the interior seed which adds a nice cherry/bitter almond note. Not sure it's worth the trouble.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Hi StriperGuy... Am totally impressed with your cherry recipe, so many thanks for sharing this with all of us who want to add a bit of home cookin to our manhattans etc this coming winter. Also, you are definitely keepin up with this thread! Just to note on my earlier comment: I mentioned that I thought i would add a little more habanero to the mix, now I don't think so... actually could feel the mild burn (it was mild, but definitely there) pretty much all afternoon after I sampled the cherry today, so enough is enough. Don't want to overwhelm, just add a subtle note. But I do think I might add another vanilla bean... Also, I think that the brandy works better than vodka as it adds roundness... I wonder what they would be like if you used bourbon or rye instead of vodka or brandy? And while you are at it, maybe a half cup of sweet vermouth. Why not take it in the direction of the drink you are mixing? hmmmmmm.... If I can find some more cherries in good shape, think it will be time for a third edition! Thanks for all!

                                            1. re: gordonb810

                                              Hmmmm, brandy next time.

                                              I like heat, but not in my cocktail cherries ;-)

                                              Glad you enjoyed em.

                                              Next try making your own bitters... YUM

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                Any approximation on the amount of sugar to use? Also do you usually make these in a 1L jar or 1/2L?

                                Just picked up cherries and hibiscus tea and am ready for my first batch!

                                1. re: Klunco


                                  I just used random jars I had lying around the kitchen and added sugar in each until the liquid in the jars was good and sweet.

                                  Key piece is not to over-blanch, you don't want to cook the cherries.

                                  Honestly this recipe is pretty hard to mess up, and in a few weeks you will have awesome cocktail cherries. Please report back and say how they turn out.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Will do, only difference is I think I'm going to pitt the cherries. Thanks for the recipe Striper!

                                    1. re: Klunco

                                      God bless you, that's a lot of work. I kinda like em with the pits.

                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                      One suggestion from my attempt last year: go really easy on the spices. You can always add more, but once they have too much anise / fennel / licorice flavor, you can't get rid of it.

                                      And the blanched ones were better than the raw ones. (Should have believed SG.)

                                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Tease StriperGuy

                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        I must've got lucky on the spicing and the blanching. I just blanched em the first time and it worked.

                                        One of the jars I made I went a little heavy on the cinnamon sticks, but that was okay. I bet too much anis flavor would be a bit much though.

                                        One of my favorite things is that the syrup they are in ends up as a delicious addition to cocktails as well. I put a splash in my Aviations and my Manhattans.

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Did you blanch pitted ones or unpitted? Should I blanch the pitted cherries?

                                          Will definitely go easy on fennel. I LOVE pastis but not in my cherries. I'm going to use brandy and was even thinking about adding a splash of Campari. Anyone tried this?

                                          1. re: Klunco

                                            I would blanch then pit, not the other way around.

                                          2. re: EvergreenDan

                                            What was better about the blanched ones? I'm trying to understand what effect the blanching has on the result.

                                            Also, how does the texture compare with the Luxardo or Fabbri cherries?

                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              Never had Luxardo. The blanched ones have a slightly soft texture. The raw ones were crispy -- like a fresh cherry. Somehow this was less appealing in a cocktail.

                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                Yeah, when I made these the other night my cherries were definitely very firm before blanching. After blanching they softened a bit but still held their shape.

                                              2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                The Luxardo and Fabbri are just candied to death. Likely boiled in a sugar syrup. Mine end up less like candied fruit and more like... wait for it... cherries.

                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          I'm glad I found your post. I just made a recipe of homemade maraschino cherries that involves a brine and then a simple syrup and Luxardo soaking liquid. I tried one and it is unpalatable, but I guess I have to give it a month to soak?


                                          1. re: Zusie

                                            Hmmmm, I like maraschino well enough, but it is not what I would choose to soak my cherries in. They do need to soak for at least a few weeks regardless.

                                            Do you like the taste of maraschino? If not, you won't like the cherries. Take a look at the soaking liquid I describe above. Way better then that boring recipe from the paper. You could certainly just take the cherries out of the maraschino and switch over to the liquid above...

                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                            Thank you for the delicious-sounding recipe, Striper. But damn you for giving me another reason to hate it not being summer.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              How do you store the cherries? Refrigerate or store at room temperature?

                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  Store on the shelf. I've had my current bottle for over a year and have no issues. Last bottle I had, I stored in the fridge and the liquid congealed into some seriously thick/semi-solid gloop in a month or so.

                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                    That's strange. I guess it depends on what they are in. Mine are in a pretty potent alcohol syrup

                                                2. re: NaFLa

                                                  I've stored open bottles (probably unnecessarily) in the fridge, sealed ones have lasted months on the shelf for me...

                                          3. I agree that homemade are better, but I think the Luxardo cherries are worth the price, and they're available year-round.


                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Agree 100%. You may not like them, but they taste the same or only marginally different from the neon red ones? I must strenuously disagree with that statement. Does anyone know how much the Amarena brand costs? It would be nice to find a slightly less expensive alternative.

                                              1. re: kimfair1

                                                Amarena Fabbri cherries are ~$23 for net wt of 21 oz. Luxardo Marachino cherries are ~$18 for net wt of 12.7 oz. So the Amarena Fabbri cherries are roughly $1.10 per oz, while the Luxardo are roughly $1.40 per oz. (Some of each jar is syrup of course.)

                                            2. Old post, but:

                                              I've been using Amarena cherries for my drinks lately. They're expensive, but God, they're addictive. Highly recommended!

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                I am trying to find where to buy these in the Boston area. (Luxardo or Amarena). Any suggestions?

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    I believe i saw them at the Boston Shaker in Davis, but please give them a ring to confirm.

                                                    1. re: tomjb27

                                                      Ding Ding Ding! This is where we found them.

                                                      1. re: tomjb27

                                                        Cambridge Wine and Spirits (is this its old name or new name, I can never remember) -- the one next to the Alewife Whole Foods -- has them too, for about $18/jar.

                                                    2. re: noradeirdre

                                                      South End Formaggio and the Wine Gallery in Brookline are two places I've bought the Luxardo cherries.


                                                      1. re: noradeirdre

                                                        I get them from my work, so I'm not sure.

                                                    3. I've recently started mixing cocktails at home. I found these alternatives to the cheap grocery store "toxic" cherries as well as the $20 ones-at a local gourmet shop-Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherry. While I'm no expert, they've been great so far, in my whiskey sours and manhattans. Cost about $6.99/jar:

                                                      1. While not on their site, I was picking up some Seville oranges at a local (to LA) shop, and discovered that they have jarred brandied dark sweet cherries. They're pretty plain (no spice or lemon), but good. Not quite as good as our homemade ones, but pretty decent, and a lot closer to home-made than the Luxardo in terms of taste / texture. On the site, I can only find their Maraschinos, but if you call, I bet they can sort you out. It's $10.20 for a 17 oz jar.

                                                        http://www.waldoward.com is their site.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: will47

                                                          Where did you find the Seville oranges in LA?

                                                          1. re: Outerspace

                                                            There's a farmer at the Wednesday and Saturday farmers markets that can bring them if you ask him, but these ones I got from the company mentioned above.

                                                            I found them through another Chowhound post, actually.

                                                            I've also heard there are trees at the LA Arboretum (see second post above)

                                                        2. One note here... other Luxardo products are really excellent:

                                                          - My favorite triple sec Luxardo Triplum
                                                          - Their Marascino liquer, arguably the best available, though I have had other (only available in Italy) brands that were just as good.
                                                          - Their Amaretto, by FAR the best I've ever had. Once you try it you will NEVER drink DiSaronno again.

                                                          Too bad they can't do a bit better on the cherry front.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            I agree. Alas their Amaretto, as good as it is, is still Amaretto.

                                                            The also make Luxardo Bitter, a red Campari-like amaro. I liked it, although I eventually decided that I liked Campari better, despite the higher price.

                                                            And they make Luxardo Abano amaro, a black-pepper flavored brown digestif. Also very good.

                                                            www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                              I love using their Amaretto in Mai Tais. Perfect almondy flavor.

                                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                                              I would just like to state for the record that I have revised my opinion on Luxardo cherries since starting this thread. I still think $20 is a lot to pay for a jar of cherries, but have to admit that these things are much better than neon maraschinos. They are definitely super sweet, but are a nice thing to add to a Manhattan or other drink. I am still on my original jar, so the $20 doesn't seem so bad now, but at the same time that means that I am not dying to eat these things up in a hurry.

                                                              1. re: nickls

                                                                I have to agree with your revised thought. I think the Luzardo cherries are excellent. Well worth the money since they last so long, and have that deep morello cherry flavor and firm semi candied texture.

                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                  It's the texture I don't care for. All syruped up and nothing at all like a cherry.

                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                    I don't care for the texture either, or how sweet they are. I will take housemade brandied cherries any day over the Luxardo ones.

                                                                    1. re: will47

                                                                      I like the firm, semi-candied texture.

                                                            3. I'm sure your own cherries are better than Luxardo cherries, but Luxardo cherries are clearly better than the average neon red maraschino cherry. This is night and day. I bet the price difference per drink is miniscule too.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. I also recently learned that the Luxardo maraschino cherries are shelf stable. I wondered why the syrup was congealing to gelatin in my fridge, and apparently they are formulated to be stored in a cool, dark place, like honey. With syrup to cover, they will last as long as a couple of years. No danger of that in my household, but still good to know.


                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  Are you sure about that? I had some develop some mold after just a month or so, and they were in the refrigerator.

                                                                  1. re: sku

                                                                    MC probably went ahead and replaced the syrup with Everclear. That'll keep the mold at bay!

                                                                    Seriously, though, it's possible that keeping them in a fridge can actually increase the chance of mold development, due to development of surface moisture. Thick syrups like honey, when kept on a shelf, tend to be fairly homogeneous with regard to water content, but when put in a fridge will sometimes develop a thin layer of water (or thinner syrup) on the top. And while the syrup itself may be dense enough to inhibit growth, the thinner layer will not be.

                                                                    Just a theory--but if in doubt, I guarantee that the Everclear method will work!

                                                                2. Awesome thread! Just made a batch of cherries last night and wished I had seen this column first! I'm soaking a two quart size mason jars of pitted cherries in Luxardo and a cup of sugar per jar, and the other two quart jars with cherries, a cup of sugar, and Grand Marnier. I never thought about brining the cherries first. I dropped a cherry into my glass of GM and soda (needed to relax while pitting all those cherries!) and the cherry swelled up and got gross looking and textured. Uh oh! Hopefully the soda water was what made that happen really bad and not the liquor, I don't want to have gross looking cherries.

                                                                  Do you think it would make sense to drain the cherries tonight, soak them in salt for a bit, and then put them back in the liquor? Or is it too late?

                                                                  Also thinking of soaking peach and nectarine slices in GM, I'll try the brine with that too.

                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                  1. re: AlizaEss

                                                                    I think you might as well just wait to see how they turn out. Brining now would probably just make a mess out of 'em. I was sceptical on the brine myself, but it really does work. Also Maraschino and Gran Marnier or fine, but you don't really get CHERRY flavor then. You get cherries that taste like the aforementioned booze.

                                                                    Something like Cherry Heering or even some Cherry Kirschwasser would be better if you are going for a straight cherry boozed thing.

                                                                    Also with the fruit slices, do a sample run first. My gut is they will just turn to much and not stand up to brine very well. Or at least google a good recipe on how to make boozy peaches, nectarines etc cause there has to be some issue on preserving the texture. I'm thinking simmer in a sugar syrup first or something...

                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                      Thanks for the advice! Yup, I'll leave them alone and see what happens. I'm thinking I'll let the cherry macerate in sugar and liquor for a week, then simmer them in some sugar syrup and spices before canning. I'd use cherry juice or cherry liquor, but then I sort of feel like I'm cheating a little bit and not really highlighting the local cherries I got (I'm hoping to have these cherries available at a local foodie event in the fall). Does sound splendid though and I'll keep that in mind for the future.

                                                                      Yep, I'm thinking I don't want the peaches to totally taste like straight up booze so I think I'll do a cinnamon scented syrup and add just a touch of Gran Marnier.

                                                                      Damn I love this website!

                                                                      1. re: AlizaEss

                                                                        If you are adding a decent amount of booze and sugar no need to actually can them. The booze and sugar do the preserving for ya. If you are going light on either though, obviously safer to heat/can. And excuse the typos above, meant to say "Mush" regarding the peaches.

                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                          Well I ended up canning them just to be absolutely sure they were shelf-stable. I'm sure it destroyed the alcohol content which kind of sucks but at least I have genuine maraschino flavored cherries. I can always add more alcohol to the cocktails. I did reserve one quart size jar of Grand Marnier soaked cherries in the fridge to drink as is. All I did was add one cup of natural cane sugar to a quart size jar, filled with pitted cherries, then filled the jar with liquor. Let steep in the fridge for about a week, and stir gently to dissolve the sugar after the first day or so. Yum. Texture of the cherries was fine after a week, we'll see if they get too soft if they stay in the liquor.

                                                                          1. re: AlizaEss

                                                                            Just FYI you can't destroy the alcohol. The only issue with cooking and alcohol is that it has a low boiling point 172F so boils off more easily than water. Also why distillation of alcohol is possible.

                                                                            As long as your jars were sealed when you heated them, the alcohol is trapped and none was destroyed or evaporated away.

                                                                            Also, as long as you use a decent amount of alcohol (I think 20% should do it) ain't nothing going to grow there.

                                                                            Relevant article from NY Times:


                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                              Hmmm, I used a water bath canning method so the water was boiling at 212... and the canning lids only seal completely once they are cooled down, not when they are still in the water bath. So I guess we will find out come winter when we drink the contents of the jars if the alcohol evaporated or not!

                                                                              I did consider that the alcohol would keep the fruit shelf stable but since I'll be storing the fruit until winter and hopefully selling it at a fundraiser cocktail party I wanted to be absolutely sure that they were food-safe.

                                                                              Thanks for the great NY Times article link. Hope you don't mind if I use it and our conversations here in a blog post about my homemade maraschino cherry project: http://www.baltimorediy.org/2011/08/h...

                                                                              1. re: AlizaEss

                                                                                Knock yourself out. I certainly understand that in canning the jar is not sealed until the heating is done. But I am fairly sure that most of the alcohol is still in there.

                                                                                Also, in your blog, you state that Marasa cherries are from Croatia. That appears to be from a Wikipedia entry which is a bit suspect. Particularly because you go on to discuss Luxardo Maraschino which is DEFINITELY from Italy. Luxardo is also the best known brand in the U.S. but there are MANY brands in Europe.

                                                                                Hope the cherries are good.

                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                  Thanks for all the advice, and I'm happy to hear that about the alcohol, I was a little disappointed once the thought occurred to me that the heat could affect the alchol content. I'll bet you're right and I'll let you know once I try some :) The pre-canned cherries were quite good, I'll let you know later how the canned ones turn out!

                                                                                2. re: AlizaEss

                                                                                  Does this not depend upon the vapor pressure of alcohol at 212*F versus the clamp force of the Mason jar? The lids have a lot of area, so it would take a huge amount of clamp force to keep even a few psi in. I'm guessing that if you heat it long enough, you'll boil off most of the alcohol if the contents come close to 212*F.

                                                                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                    You might be right. We need to either do an experiment, or get a serious physics nerd to chime in. (Unless of course you are one Dan...)

                                                                                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                      It takes a heck of a lot of cooking to boil off the alcohol. I'm tempted to put some booze in a canning jar and process it. Then open it up and test the alcohol level. If I have the time I will do that today.

                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                        OK, so I put 16 oz of 50% abv alcohol in a pint canning jar. Sealed it and put it into a waterbath and brought to a boil for 30 minutes, then removed it and cooled it down. There was no determinable loss in liquid quantity (there may have been a few ml. loss, but such a small amount that it wasn't noticeable using a lab measuring retort), and zero change in alcohol by volume. Absolutely none.

                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                          Awesome, thanks for doing the experiment! So happy to know that my maraschinos will still be tipsy cherries come wintertime :)

                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                            That's about what I figured would happen.



                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                              i attempted to process my cherries and every jar without fail had noticeable loss in liquid quantity. I'd be careful attempting to process. I sure wish I'd have left good enough alone.

                                                                                              1. re: rhino876

                                                                                                That must be user error. I've never had any loss.

                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                  Idk... I'm an experienced canner and all the jars sealed... They just lost liquid in the process.

                                                                                                  1. re: rhino876

                                                                                                    I can see gaining liquid, but losing it? Unless the fruit wasn't fully processed before canning, then absorbed liquid during the canning.

                                                                                            2. re: JMF

                                                                                              I appreciate your dedication to trivial but fascinating scientific ventures. Kudos.

                                                                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                      I've attempted cocktail cherries many months ago before seeing your post. I did one batch which was not canned and one that was. I used a significant amount of Maraschino liqueur, bourbon and simple syrup to keep bacterial growth from down. On the one not canned I had some fermentation since I saw some bubbles being formed the first couple of days. I stored these in a dark place in the kitchen for about a month before transferring to the fridge. They came out okay. Quite boozy but tasty.

                                                                                      I recently did another couple of jars but took your advise and blanched the cherries for 4 min in salted water. I added similar liquids and flavorings as before and did not do a water bath. No fermentation noted.

                                                                                      My question is how do you store yours while they are curing and for how long?

                                                                                      Thanks and here's to a better Manhattan

                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                        Just in a cool dark place. I have a very dark corner in my home office.

                                                                                        I have been working on eating a LARGE batch that I made a year or so ago. They continue to be fine.

                                                                                        If you add enough booze, there will be NO fermentation even if you don't blanch. Nothing can survive (yeast or bacteria) if the ethanol level exceeds 20% or so. The bubble you saw might just be air...

                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                          definitely fermentation. It was a small Ball jar so the amount of booze may have been insufficient. They taste boozy though

                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                            I suppose if the jar was stuffed with cherries, and then there was some syrup you could get the alcohol count below 20%. Also I believe Maraschino is pretty low in alcohol so sure, I get ya.

                                                                                            You could always spike with a bit of grain alcohol just to nuke any possible fermentation / spoilage.

                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                              Thanks SG. The two new batches are doing well. No fermentation. They are in a dark place but cool is not something that we have in Fla. Ambient temp in the house is around 78 and that feels cool with the A/C blowing. I just was sipping on a Manhattan with one of my first cherry batches. Still better than the jar stuff.

                                                                                              Thanks for the input. As a note, instead of hibiscus flowers which required a trip to the Mexican store, I use a small wedge of red beet to help retain color lost from blanching. I doubt that little wedge will have much effect on flavor but sure kept the liquid deep red. Will see in a few weeks were we stand. I used a vanilla bean and a drop of almond extract in this new batch as flavorings. fingers crossed.

                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                Good call on the beet. A ubiquitously available colorant. Also good call on the almond extract.

                                                                                                Cool is not such a big issue. My house gets hot on a good day in Boston 80+. Dark is more important.

                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                  StriperGuy, just wanted to report back on the cherries

                                                                                                  Just popped on jar open yesterday to make my wife a cocktail. The cherries had great structure. Not soft or wrinkled. They had regained a lot of color and were a deep dark burgundy. They tasted excellent. So far this is my best attempt.

                                                                                                  The cocktail made was vodka and fresh grapefruit juice with simple syrup and I added the cherry and a tsp of the liquid which streamed down to the bottom until there was a nice color gradient. Overall it was an impressive looking cocktail which tasted even better with the addition of these wonderful cherries.

                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                    Muy bueno; glad they turned out well.

                                                                                                    I am definitely going to make a batch again this spring.

                                                                                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                Luxardo maraschino is 76 proof.

                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                  Gosh, would not have thought it...

                                                                                3. Since this thread has turned into the repository of cherry know-how, here's a great blog post by Darcy O'Neil on the topic:


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                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                    Wow, that's some awesome info. Might have to score some malic acid or some acid phosphate for my next batch.

                                                                                    Not even sure I mentioned it in my recipes above, but I did actually smash lots of cherry pits and throw them into some of my batches (from cherries I ate as I did not bother to pit the cocktail cherries.) I assume it added to the flavor.

                                                                                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                      Damn Darcy does some great stuff. We hang out every year at Tales and have the darnedest conversations, but not one about cocktail cherries.

                                                                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                        I just skimmed this entry yesterday only to find that it has completely disappeared today! Can anyone give me a reader's digest version? I just bought 10 pounds of cherries!!!

                                                                                      2. The salt water boiling trick is really important to set the color of the cherries and also displace the calcium and magnesium associated with the fruit acids (citric, malic and fumaric acids associated with various fruits also bind to calcium and magnesium ions and boiling with sodium will displace those salts and make the product more stable. The heavily salted water also draws moisture out of the fruit and this is the process that must occur during the sugar displacement of fruit liquids during storage. Sodium tastes salty while the other ions can taste bitter and promote color changes during storage. A little sodium in sugary foods helps us taste sweet things better. The boiling stops enzymatic reactions and kills surface yeasts that can ferment the fruit. Another trick is to use hard cherries and not ripe soft ones for pickling and canning. The hard fruit will withstand the sugar water exchange without changes in shape or color loss better than softer ripe fruit.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: dsweedler

                                                                                          How long do you recommend boiling and do can you specify a salinity that you feel is best?

                                                                                        2. If anyone is curious to see a photo of the color of cherries without going through the soaking or boiling step, I simply steeped cherries in luxardo liquor and sugar, then canned the cherries in the liquid with a few bits of cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper. The cherries and liquid have maintained a nice, deep red color (it's not bright red like hibiscus but is still pretty). Here's a photo of the cherries along with a link to a blog post I did on the project: http://www.baltimorediy.org/2011/08/h....

                                                                                          The lightly spiced cherries were fabulous over the holidays and made for a very elegant cocktail. I dropped them into white wine made into a spritzer with smashed clementine orange and soda water and they were fabulous! Although once I have a few whiskey and cherries in me I usually just start eating the cherries right out of the jar....

                                                                                          1. After almost six months of mellowing, I have started plowing through my cherries from this recipe. Mine definitely took a while to mellow and taste good especially because I used a leftover bourbon that I didn't care for to begin with. It seems obvious enough but I guess I thought that with all the spices and sugar it wouldn't make that big a difference.

                                                                                            Luckily, now they have turned into a delicious cherries that adorn my old-fashioneds, but next time I will definitely be more selective with my booze. Aging definitely helps though. Great recipe!

                                                                                            1. Great thread. Cherry Season around DC starts in early June. There's a few "pick your own" places around here and now I look forward to taking home a bunch and trying SG's recipe.

                                                                                              In the meantime... I'll buy another bottle of Luxardo cherries, because they are definitely better than the neon red things. The reason I have to buy another bottle is because I finally had to throw out my other jar, which was still about a third full, and only about four months old. I'd kept it in the fridge and it had turned into a solid blob of nearly solid gelatinous cherry goop. I was wondering about this and thanks to this thread, I learned that it would probably be better to store these things in a cabinet. So...yeah...double dose of good info in this thread.

                                                                                              1. This was an awesome thread...
                                                                                                Do you think that this recipe would work for cherries that need to be used in a Black Forest cake?

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: CCKQN

                                                                                                    I *need* a slice of that cake....pretty please, with a cherry on top!

                                                                                                  2. By the way, the new Filthy Black Cocktail Cherries by Filthy Foods are excellent. Just hitting the shelves now.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                      It is sour cherry season. Stop and Shop carries them, they come from an orchard in the finger lakes of ny. Some ethnic groceries also get them, armenian for example. About 5.00 for a pint basket. Any time now. Better for preserving than bings. By the way, not sour at all, excellent raw.

                                                                                                    2. I don't usually do this, but yesterday I sent a drink back at a sushi rest. Nothing wrong with doing it, the waitress took care of it. Happily, my husband watch me giving my arguments to the waitress who carried my concerns to the bartender back and forth.
                                                                                                      Husband asked: Over a cherry??. I reply: not any kind of cherry, they described the drink as garnished with a Luxardo Cherry, and the one I got was "muddle" with a common Maraschino Cherry. If you look at the price of the cherries, you would find it unfair to charge what they charged for that drink. Culinary Spy

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: culinaryspy

                                                                                                        Good for you, culinaryspy! If a cocktail is supposed to have a Luxardo cherry, it had danged well better have a Luxardo cherry instead of the day-glo nastiness of a common maraschino cherry.

                                                                                                        And here's my 2 cents to add to the wealth of home-made cherry recipes: If cherries aren't in season, I buy bottled sour cherries (in a jar) - I find Zergut brand Bulgarian cherries at my local Persian deli - then replace the sugar syrup with alcohol, and let them steep in the fridge for a few weeks/months (they last forever). I use Luxardo Maraschino, but anything would do. Yeah, fresh cherries would be better, but it's January in Minnesota...

                                                                                                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                          Good suggestion. Heck even some of the killer cherries from the Penguin Brand cherry jam I love would do the trick.

                                                                                                      2. I agree.

                                                                                                        If find sour cherries taste better, and are a much better value. They are also more available for cooking, or for Kirsch.

                                                                                                        1. It must depend what you are using them for. Maybe in cocktails home made are better, but I have chocolate truffle and cake recipes which specify maraschino cherries and for four years was unable to source the real thing in the UK. The 'maraschino flavour' things in the stores were horrible in those recipes. During that time I successfully made cocktail cherries using brandy etc, even with maraschino liqueur, which tasted great - in everything except the recipes I wanted them for. The nearest I got was a pale imitation with the syrup remainder from an old jar of the real thing, but the cherries were never right.
                                                                                                          When you need something less candied than glace and with the real maraschino syrup flavour for cookery there really is no substitute. Fortunately, the real thing is available online for UK customers again.

                                                                                                          1. Nickis: Try a bottle of Castella Sour Cherry Preserves. Might have to look in Armenian/Middle Eastern grocery stores. The cherries are firm, and have a nice chew. Syrup is complex, with hidden notes of vanilla, clove and caramel.
                                                                                                            Nothing better for a Manhattan: just a half tsp of syrup shaken along with the whisky and vermouth transforms the whole drink to something special. Drop a couple of chewy cherries at the bottom, and you'll be all set.

                                                                                                            1. I need to try those Castella cherries. Having made my own with Bing cherries, roughly following StriperGuy's recipe, and having aged them, fiddled with the syrup / liquor, I can now say that Luxardo cherries are vastly better. Small, intense, chewy with a toothsome "shell" -- the perfect end to a Red Hook. Not even vaguely comparable to supermarket neon cherries which themselves are way worse than my own.

                                                                                                              I've been swayed to a cherry-garnished drink at a bar when I see a Luxardo cherry go out.

                                                                                                              I'm also not sure, but the jar I bought was seemed bigger than my memory. It was 400 grams, taller-than-wide, and I bought it at The Boston Shaker, which is walking distance from my house. They do on-line too: www.thebostonshaker.com.

                                                                                                              And, slightly related, I just tried the Leopold Maraschino liqueur. It is cherry-forward, unlike the Luxardo "standard". It gets a little lost in a drink, at least at the ratios intended for Luxardo, because it lacks Luxardo's intense funk. Anyone have any good ideas for it?

                                                                                                              www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                Gulp, sorry I led you astray.

                                                                                                                Though I am a HUGE Luxardo fan (Maraschino liquer, amaretto, Triplum) those cherries just don't do it for me.

                                                                                                                To each his own.

                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                  You didn't lead me astray. I like the cherries I made with your recipe. But I'm in love with Luxardo cherries.

                                                                                                                  My wife has started putting them in anything brown. I had to tell her that, no, a Negroni doesn't get a cherry.

                                                                                                                2. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                  Do you mean toothsome as in delicious? Because, despite what you would think from the way the word sounds, toothsome does not mean that it it slightly "to the bite".

                                                                                                                  The Luxardo cherries have grown on me a bit, and they do work well in certain drinks, but I still prefer a less chewy one most of the time.

                                                                                                                  1. re: will47

                                                                                                                    No, I meant sexually alluring. ;)

                                                                                                                    Actually, I meant what the word should mean, not apparently what it does. I'm starting a semantics revolt!

                                                                                                                3. I ADORE Luxardo cherries! Soaking even the best cherries in Luxardo didn't work for me. Just received the 10 lb can I gave myself for the holidays. Am sharing them with family and friends and using in all sorts of recipes. Can't beat a touch of the syrup in cocktails. My special concoction is a mix between a Manhattan and a Sazerac - the bitters brings out the cherry, anise and rye flavors. Cheers!

                                                                                                                  1. We are fans of Luxardo brand but not the price point and the fact that the bottles gets all grainy and congealed in sugar within a couple of months in the frig.

                                                                                                                    We have in the past used and enjoyed the neon red, retro-scary cherries with stems if they did not taste totally nasty (Table Joy brand was the only jar thrown out unused after tasting a couple).

                                                                                                                    We have also had some success soaking dried sour or bing cherries (Trader Joe's) in brandy, Grand Marnier, and Luxardo along with some spices some cases (cardamom, clove, allspice, etc - not sugar or ginger). This may be the most economical option but the flavoring doesn't always work with some cocktails.

                                                                                                                    Now for the revelation and tip - our new favorite by far are: Tillen Farms Bada Bing (not the Maraschino sold at Whole Foods - they are flaccid and flavorless) Cherries procured from Amazon ($19 for 3 jars of 13 oz each - Prime eligible) - these are large, real delicious cherries without any artificial stuff. We are looking no further - the search has ended for the perfect cocktail cherries at our house!

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: rlh

                                                                                                                      You're keeping them in the fridge? No wonder - unlike other preserved cherries they're designed to be kept at room temperature, even after opening. Refrigeration will accelerate crystallisation. If you're in climes regularly over 75 degrees fahrenheit, keeping them in the shade I've never had a problem for home use but if you're using them commercially I don't think you could avoid refrigeration of opened jars. I have no idea whether decanting the syrup and refrigerate or freezing the cherries separately, so crystals might be removed or the syrup gently reheated before adding them back in, might work.

                                                                                                                      1. re: a_llusive

                                                                                                                        At least with honey, one is able to remove crystals with gentle heat.

                                                                                                                        1. re: a_llusive

                                                                                                                          I just threw out a jar that i thought turned because it was congealed and crystalized, and leaving it out overnight did not solve the issue

                                                                                                                          How long are they shelf stable once opened at room temp?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                                                            With honey simply exposing it to room temperature is not enough to remove the crystals. I set my jar of honey in a pot of simmering water until the crystals dissipate. Try this before tossing next time.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                                                              As noted before never refrigerate these cherries. Mine are perfectly stable at room temperature and I expect them to stay so indefinitely. The ones I decanted and bottled in clean jars in December are all still in perfect condition. In the past I have kept good quality Luxardo cherries unrefrigerated for at least three years (have had problems with lower-quality cherries darkening). I would never use honey in cherries because the flavors are dramatically different and the delicate cherry flavor is enhanced by regular sugar. Also even moderate heat can ruin the composition. BTW I just bought four different kinds of cherries and plan to test jarring a few this week in Luxardo and using slightly less sugar.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ABDaigle

                                                                                                                                Oh I was just saying that crystals can be melted down with heat. I don't think I've ever used honey to preserve anything, as it's such a strong flavor.

                                                                                                                        2. Did everyone see this new article on making brandied cherries?


                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: ABDaigle

                                                                                                                            The article refers to Jeffrey Morgethaler's book, and his method and Shoemaker's method. That info has been up on Morgenthaler's blog for several years.

                                                                                                                            I'm glad Jeffrey's book is getting attention. He did a great job. It's worth getting for anyone who needs a good primer on beginning to advanced bartending. He covers a lot of great info.

                                                                                                                          2. I'm doing research for a book on Victorian era cocktails. Course I'm having to make most of my mixers since the laws have changed what once was. Like grenadine. Mine isn't red sugar syrup, but a reduced pomegranate syrup with herbs. It's divine. I am also doing cherries.

                                                                                                                            History time ;)

                                                                                                                            Once upon a time, by law, marachino cherries had to be marasca cherries in marachino liqueur. Marasca cherries are a type of sour cherry grown mainly in Dalmatia, Croatia, and parts of Italy. If it did not contain marasca cherries, it had to be labeled as "cherries in marachino." I believe they were brined before being soaked in marachino. That part is a little sketchy.

                                                                                                                            Even back then, real marachino cherries were at a premium. So people were making their own cherries in marachino.

                                                                                                                            Then came "the great experiment" which sealed the fate of these poor pieces of fruit. (If you like them, do NOT read how they're made.)

                                                                                                                            I read Darcy's article on cherries and should have some acid phosphate in the next day or so. I have a couple pounds of both sweet and sour cherries so will be making several batches: brine vs Darcy's method. With marachino (a non luxardo brand) and without. The without ones will be canned, and I may do the same with the "cherries in marachino."

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Atalanta

                                                                                                                              Victorian Era cocktails, 1837-1901, the peak of the Golden Age of cocktails. Especially when ice started to become more readily available right about then.

                                                                                                                              Are you making all of them to see which fit todays tastes, and which, while popular back then, don't taste too good today?

                                                                                                                              There are a couple of books and recipes from then which I have. Not originals, but re-prints, as a gift from a publisher friend who did them accurately. He has one of the largest collections of spirits and cocktail books. I've made quite a few cocktails from the Golden Age. As I am sure you know, Jerry Thomas put out the first ever book of cocktail recipes, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion, in 1862. O.H. Byron Modern Bartenders Guide in 1884. William Schmidt's The Flowing Bowl in 1891. C.F. Lawlor's The Mixicologist in 1895. George J. Kappeler's Modern American Drinks in 1895. Charlie Paul's Recipes of American and other iced drinks in 1895. Harry Johnson didn't put one out until the last year of the Victorian Era, the Bartenders Manual and Guide in 1900.

                                                                                                                              I don't know if there any other books from that era. Do you know any I missed? I'll have to stop by and browse through my friends collection again, since I am currently consulting just a few blocks away.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                I have several books in PDF and have facsimiles of others. I have a printed copy of the professor's 1862 edition and PDF of the next version (though I printed out the back chapters of that version, for making bitters and mixers). So far there haven't been any really gross drinks, and not any "omg this is wow" either.

                                                                                                                                Not all the books I have are drink books. The recipe for Boker's Bitters comes from a book that would be at home in the workshop or the kitchen. Another is for compounding medicines and running a soda fountain (adding a chapter on temperance drinks). And some "Goode housewyfe" books have interesting concoctions.

                                                                                                                                I think I need to spend less time reading and more time drinking ;)

                                                                                                                                1. re: Atalanta

                                                                                                                                  Where are you located?

                                                                                                                                  All the books I mention can be ordered from cocktailkingdom.com if there are any you don't have.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                    I'm in PA. I've looked at Cocktail Kingdom's collection, but I've found many courtesy of The Gutenberg Project and other online archives. One site I found interesting (and would have been even better if I spoke french) http://www.euvs.org/en/collection/books

                                                                                                                            2. I love them!!! They are a far cry from the waxy preserved ones that we all know, and these actually taste like cherries. They are not preserved beyond the point of recognition. I was totally impressed when I had one for the first time the other day. It wowed me!!!!

                                                                                                                              1. Shameless plug: If anyone is interested, we make cocktail cherries at the Mess Hall Cocktail Co.


                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: MessHallCocktailCo

                                                                                                                                  Could be interested, but why would you not wait and do the plug when your web-site overhaul is complete so that a purchase could be made?!