Monday, August 26, 2013

With A Cherry On Top

Sometimes I wish I were not such a nerd and didn't feel the need to research things we eat.  It seems every time I do I have to cross another item we used to enjoy off the list.  This time I HAD to read about the process of  making Maraschino cherries.  Dang!  Another food item gone!  Spoiler:  They chemically bleach all the color out of cherries, shoot them with red dye number 5 for that uniform hot pink cherry color, then send them swimming in a dye infused solution of sugar, high fructose corn syrup (GMO)  and water with several preservatives thrown in for good measure.  Ick!

Now don't get me wrong. It's not like we sit around throwing down cherries right and left, but some things like a sundae or certain beverages absolutely require a cherry on top.  Since I had a boatload of Bing cherries in the refrigerator I started looking for a way to make some suitable cherry topper for desserts.  It was easier than I thought.  I found a blog called The Garden of Eating and low and behold, there was a recipe for home canned cherries.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cherry juice ( can substitute concord grape or black cherry)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups pitted fresh bing cherries

Bring the sugar water and cherry juice to a boil and stir until all the sugar is liquified.  Reduce heat to low and add the lemon juice, extract and cherries.  Cook for about 5 minutes for the cherries to absorb all the flavors.  Put the hot cherries in sterile canning jars.  Pour the juice over leaving 1/4 inch of head space.  Put canning lids on and process in a  water bath for 10 minutes.

Do these look and taste just like the traditional maraschino cherries?  Not exactly but they are a perfectly acceptable alternative and don't have a boatload of chemicals in them.

I have also read of another way to make a spirited version of these  You simply pour Maraschino Liqueur over stemmed cherries and let them sit for a couple of weeks for their "flavor" to develop. Since I live in Alabama and the state mandates what liqueurs are available for purchase, I cannot find it but I  thought I might scout for it in Florida when I am on vacation.  Will amend this post if I find some and it works.

p.s.  If you intend to make anything with fresh cherries, invest in a cherry pitter and work over the sink! When I had finished pitting all of them it looked like I needed to call Dexter to come analyze a crime scene.

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