For three summers in a row, my husband and I have picked and received plenty of pie cherries from our friends Matt and Arwen. They have a huge cherry tree in their backyard which produces more pie cherries than our two household can use.
The first year my husband and I decided to make two different batches of Sour Cherry Jam. My father in law had just recently given me the “Blue chair Jam Cookbook” by Blue Chair Fruits. After making a number of tasty marmalade’s throughout the winter months… I was eager to try out on of the jam recipes.
The second year of picking cherries we decided to try a different recipe that was a bit less labor intensive. We went with a low sugar, fresh fruit jam that required much less cooking time and retained more “fresh” fruit flavor. The only downfall with this recipe was that the cherry flavor was not nearly as rich nor as intense as the Blue Chair Fruits recipe.
This year, we still have PLENTY of sour cherry jam and decided to come up with another way of preserving cherries for use throughout the year. After much research we decided to make our rendition of Maraschino Cherries.
We came across of ton of recipes for making refrigerator maraschino cherries… but honestly I don’t have the spare refrigerator space to reserve a section just for canned goods. After much research, most of which is now “lost in the wind” because my husband took mainly paper notes, we came up with our own recipe for canned, shelf stable maraschino cherries. These little babies are amazing in drinks or straight out of the jar.
-9lbs pitted pie cherries/washed+cleaned
-1 1/2 cup Whole Food’s Tart Cherry Juice
-1 1/2 cup Leopold Brothers Michigan Cherry Liquor (can be tough to find and a little expensive, but this tastes like pure cherry essence)
-1 1/2 cup Maraschino Liquor (most quality liquor stores carry some sort of Maraschino liquor)
– 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
– 1/2 oz almond extract
1) Pit and clean the 9lbs of pie cherries. Set aside.
2) Bring following liquid to a boil
- 1 1/2 cup Whole Food Tart Cherry Juice
- 1 1/2 cup Maraschino Liquor
- -1 1/2 cup Leopold Brothers Michigan Cherry Liquor
- -2 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3) REMOVE Boiling liquid from heat
3) Add 1/2 oz almond extract
4) Pack cherries tightly into clean+sterilized canning jars (If you’ve never canned before…. please read up on home canning and jar sanitation before proceeding with this recipe)
5) Wipe threads and top with clean lids
6) Process in hot water bath for 20 minutes (this is probably too long in all reality…..but since we made up this recipe….we thought it better to be safe than sorry)
7) Remove from boiling water, and set on cooling racks to cool.
We ended up with about 11 pint jars total.
They might not be the prettiest ever, but they are certainly more appetizing than the plasticky neon red nubbins that topped banana splits when we were kids.