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Maraschino Cherries

by Ben Ellefsen     4. May 2010 17:00
A Jar of Maraschino Cherries
Okay, so this was taken a couple of weeks after the jar was filled…

Every good bartender (and home cocktail enthusiast) knows that a cocktail is only as good as its ingredients, and one ingredient that is indispensable in the preparation of a plethora of whisky cocktails is the Maraschino cherry.

Traditionally, Maraschino cherries are prepared by preserving small, light coloured cherries in a brine solution, dyeing them red, and then dousing them in Maraschino Liqueur. This technique, whilst effective, is also time consuming, and impossible to undertake unless the cherries are in season and fresh.

Commercially available ‘cocktail cherries’ (note the conspicuous absence of the word ‘Maraschino’) for sale in supermarkets and on the interweb tend to be of inferior quality, containing no Maraschino Liqueur at all, using cheaper sugar syrup, and artificial flavourings to achieve a poor approximation of the real thing.

In order to give you the opportunity to sample the ‘real’ Maraschino cherry, we’ve undertaken a series of experiments to find the best way to prepare proper Maraschino cherries all year round.

The key to the procedure is to use canned or jarred [is this a word? ed.] cherries (which have already been preserved during the canning process) of a sufficiently high quality. Our advice is to buy one of every variety of canned cherry available in your local supermarket, and look for the ones that are firmest and tastiest. We found huge variance in the cherries available in our local supermarkets, and have to say that there wasn’t a clear-cut winner. Some people preferred the larger, darker cherries, and some preferred the smaller, lighter Morello cherries – we say try them all, and judge for yourself.

The recipe is as follows:

 Luxardo Maraschino

  1. Take one ‘Kilner’ style re-sealable jar (just a Jam Jar would do if you don’t have one), and place in the oven at 120 centigrade for 10 minutes to sterilise. Remove the jar and leave it to cool down.
  2. Meanwhile, empty a tin or two (depending on the size of jar you’re using) of canned cherries into a sieve, and rinse under cold running water for 30 seconds to remove any syrup or juice.
  3. Empty the cherries out on to kitchen paper, and pat dry, taking care to remove as much of the water as possible without crushing the cherries.
  4. Pack the jar with cherries – fill it right to the top - get as many in as you possibly can.
  5. Pour in Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur until the cherries are completely covered.
  6. Place in the fridge, and leave for at least 2 weeks in order to achieve the best flavour. The cherries will improve with time as they take on more and more of the Maraschino flavour.
  7. In the words of Gordon Ramsay – “Done”.

Over the next few months we’ll be publishing a whole load of our favourite whisky cocktail recipes, many of which will call for these cherries – so make up a batch now in preparation!

- The Chaps at Master of Malt -

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