Maraschino Cherries


One of these is not like the other. As I’ve said before, I’m not hard-core about eating one way or another. I try for mostly real, whole food, but processed happens, fast food happens. I’m a little more stingy when it comes to high-fructose corn syrup. It’s pretty easy to avoid these days, so we do. Except in the case of maraschino cherries… until this week, that is. And honestly, my jar is a remnant from a sundae bar we’d made months ago. The store-bought variety were never something I would eat just because. They were simply the cherry on top of the sundae. The homemade ones, however, can and should be eaten unadorned and just because.

both drinksedited

I’d never even considered it was possible to make these neon red colored nostalgic treats myself. Turns out, there are numerous recipes floating around, some using amaretto or maraschino liquor. In theory these sounded fun, but I wanted my children to be able to eat them. So I went with the non-alcoholic recipe I found via Kara Newman for NPR, as well as her suggestion for a grown-up {still alcohol free} Shirley Temple.

But why stop there? I’m a big fan of bourbon and had discovered a while back that Jim Beam’s Black Cherry Red Stag Bourbon is an awesome cocktail when mixed with my favorite brand of ginger beer made by Fever Tree. And here is where I let my food snob flag fly. Regular ginger ale, to me, is gross and most definitely not worth the corn-syrup it contains. So if you are serious about making this cocktail, it is possible to search out real ginger beer, which is nothing more than carbonated water, real sugar and real ginger root. I was actually pretty distraught this week because our Kroger has all of a sudden stopped carrying Fever Tree Ginger Beer {I know, first world problems.} So in trying this cocktail for publishing purposes, I drove over to our Jungle Jim’s and was able to find two other brands of ginger beer that met my criteria for real ingredients and a spicy kick: Bruce Cost Unfiltered Ginger Ale and Maine Root Spicy Ginger Brew. In the meantime, my Country Fresh Farm Market store just up the street has promised they will order the Fever Tree for me. Trust me, it is amazing! But enough of my eccentric ramblings on proper ginger beer…


For this Cherry Ginger Bourbon Cocktail, simply add one shot of Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon over ice, filling the rest with ginger beer. Add a slice of fresh lime and two of your maraschino cherries {be sure to add a little of the cherry juice as well} mix and enjoy.

shirley templeedited

For the grown-up Shirley Temple, NPR suggested the traditional grenadine. I don’t keep that in the house, nor did I want to make a special purchase. Since I needed cherry juice to make the maraschinos, I simply mixed a couple of ounces of cherry juice with the same ginger beer over ice and added a liberal amount of cherries to the glass. It was delicious and refreshing.

Remembering the dark chocolate candied almond crunch served over coconut Liberté yogurt I made after my exclusive tasting with Chef Megan Ketover at the Orchids at Palm Court, I knew these cherries would pair really well with coconut and chocolate. Luckily, I live in Cincinnati which is home to Graeter’s Ice Cream… small-batch, french pot ice cream that contains the only dark chocolate “chips” in ice cream that I actually love. Any other brand of chip ice cream need not apply. Anyway this sundae made with Graeter’s Coconut Chip Ice Cream and topped with plenty of maraschino cherries and juice was amazing!

And if you know how to can, these cherries would make an excellent hostess or holiday gift. They are so easy, you really must try them!

Maraschino Cherries
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  1. 1 1/2 c. water
  2. 1/2 c. cherry or grape juice {100% juice}
  3. 1 c. sugar
  4. juice from 3 lemons
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 1 whole piece star anise
  7. 1 lb. sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed
  8. 1 t. almond extract
  1. In a large nonreactive saucepan, add water, juice, sugar, lemon juice, salt and star anise. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the cherries and almond extract. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer cherries and syrup to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Transfer the cherries to a container with a tight-fitting lid, cover tightly and refrigerate. The longer the cherries steep, the more flavorful they will become.
Adapted from No-Booze Maraschino Cherries {Kara Newman for NPR}
Foodtastic Mom
  • Nancy

    My daughter Jeannie Hampton, told me about your blog, what a beautiful place to visit. Will be looking at it in days to come.

    • Thanks for the compliment Nancy. I appreciate it! 🙂