Maraschino cherries are at their best when used as a garnish, adding a pop of color and sweetness to cocktails, desserts, and even some savory dishes. Their bright red hue and glossy sheen make them a visually appealing addition to any plate.
But it’s not just about looks. Their sweet, slightly tart flavor can complement a variety of dishes and drinks.
The taste of a maraschino cherry is a journey in itself. It starts with a sweet, candy-like flavor that is immediately recognizable. Then, as you bite into it, there’s a burst of cherry flavor, followed by a slight tartness that balances out the sweetness. It’s a taste that’s hard to describe but easy to love.
So, let’s delve deeper into the world of maraschino cherries and discover what makes them such a beloved ingredient in kitchens worldwide.
How Do Maraschino Cherries Taste?
The taste of maraschino cherries is a delightful surprise, a sweet encounter that is far from ordinary.
Imagine biting into a cherry that has been transformed, its natural tartness mellowed and replaced with an intense and satisfying sweetness. That’s the first impression of a maraschino cherry, a burst of sweetness that is almost candy-like.
But there’s more to it than just sweetness. As the flavor unfolds, you’ll notice a subtle hint of almond, a legacy of the maraschino liqueur they are traditionally preserved in. This hint of almond adds depth to the flavor, making it more complex and interesting. It’s a taste that lingers, a sweet reminder of the cherry you just enjoyed.
And then there’s the texture. Maraschino cherries are firm and juicy, adding a delightful crunch to every bite. The syrup they are stored in also contributes to the taste, adding a layer of sugary goodness that coats the cherry and intensifies the sweetness.
It’s a taste experience that is unique to maraschino cherries, a flavor profile that is as intriguing as it is delicious.
Varieties Of Maraschino Cherries
Maraschino cherries come in a few different varieties, each with its own unique characteristics:
- Traditional Maraschino Cherries: These are the classic maraschino cherries that most people are familiar with. They are bright red, sweet, and have a hint of almond flavor. They are typically made from light-colored sweet cherries like the Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties.
- Luxardo Maraschino Cherries: These are a more high-end variety of maraschino cherries. They are darker in color, almost black, and have a richer, more complex flavor. They are made using a traditional Italian process and are often used in premium cocktails and gourmet recipes.
- Natural Maraschino Cherries: These are a newer variety of maraschino cherries made without artificial colors or flavors. They have a more natural cherry flavor and are less sweet than traditional maraschino cherries.
Comparing Maraschino Cherries With Other Fruits
When compared to other fruits, maraschino cherries have a few unique characteristics:
- Fresh Cherries: Fresh cherries have a more natural, tart flavor than maraschino cherries’ sweet, candy-like flavor. They also have a softer texture and are not as firm as maraschino cherries.
- Canned Cherries: Canned cherries are similar to maraschino cherries in that they are both preserved, but canned cherries do not have the added sweetness or almond flavor. They are often used in baking and cooking.
- Dried Cherries: Dried cherries have a concentrated, sweet-tart flavor and a chewy texture. They lack the syrupy sweetness and firm texture of maraschino cherries.
Do Maraschino Cherries Taste Good?
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll likely find them irresistible. Their candy-like sweetness and a hint of almond flavor make them a delightful addition to many dishes. They can transform a simple dessert or cocktail into something special with their vibrant color and unique taste.
However, their sweetness is intense due to being preserved in sugar syrup. They lack the natural tartness of fresh cherries, which some people might miss.
Maraschino cherries are available year-round, which is a plus. You can enjoy them anytime, whether it’s in the middle of summer or during the holiday season. They don’t require any preparation or cooking, which makes them a convenient choice for quick desserts or garnishes. Just scoop them out of the jar and serve.
While maraschino cherries can be eaten raw, they are not typically cooked or frozen. Cooking them could cause them to lose their firm texture and vibrant color, and freezing them might affect their taste and texture.
So, it’s best to enjoy maraschino cherries as they are, adding them to your dishes just before serving them for the best taste and appearance.
What Do Maraschino Cherries Look Like?
Maraschino cherries are a sight to remember. They are small, round fruits similar in size to fresh cherries. But what sets them apart is their vibrant color. Traditional maraschino cherries are a bright, glossy red that is almost neon in its intensity.
When buying maraschino cherries at the grocery store, look for well-sealed jars filled with thick, sweet syrup. The cherries should be submerged in the syrup, which helps preserve their flavor and texture. Also, pay attention to the color of the cherries.
They should be a bright, uniform red. Any discoloration or spots could indicate that the cherries are not fresh.
Do Maraschino Cherries Have Seeds?
Maraschino cherries are typically pitted before they are preserved, which means they do not have seeds. The process of pitting removes the hard, inedible seed in the center of the cherry, making the maraschino cherries easier to eat.
So, when you bite into a maraschino cherry, all you’ll experience is the sweet, firm flesh of the fruit, without any hard seeds to interrupt your enjoyment.
Recipes with Maraschino Cherries
Maraschino cherries can be used in various recipes to add a touch of sweetness and a pop of color. Here are a few ideas:
- Cherry Cocktails: Maraschino cherries are a classic garnish for cocktails like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned. They add a sweet finish to these drinks and look beautiful, perched on the rim of the glass. Pro tip: try using a cocktail skewer to create a cherry garnish that can be easily added to any drink.
- Baked Goods: From cupcakes to cookies, maraschino cherries can be used in baked goods. They can be chopped up and added to the batter or used as a colorful topping. Remember, a little goes a long way, so use sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors.
- Ice Cream Sundae: A maraschino cherry is the perfect finishing touch for an ice cream sundae. Its bright red color contrasts beautifully with the white ice cream, and its sweet flavor complements the creaminess of the ice cream.
Side Dishes with Maraschino Cherries
While maraschino cherries are usually used in sweet dishes, they can also be used in savory side dishes. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Cherry Salad: Add chopped maraschino cherries to a salad for a sweet twist. They pair well with leafy greens, goat cheese, and a simple vinaigrette. The cherries add a sweetness that balances out the tanginess of the cheese and dressing.
- Cherry Sauce: Make a sweet and tangy cherry sauce to serve with pork or chicken. Simply simmer maraschino cherries with some of their syrup, a splash of vinegar, and some seasonings until it thickens into a sauce. The sweet and sour flavor of the sauce pairs wonderfully with the savory meat.
Maraschino Cherries FAQs
Are maraschino cherries real cherries?
Yes, maraschino cherries are real cherries. They are typically made from light-colored sweet cherries like the Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold. The cherries are preserved in a brine solution to remove their color and flavor, then soaked in a sweet maraschino syrup to give them their characteristic taste and bright red color.
Are maraschino cherries good for you?
While maraschino cherries are a tasty treat, they are not particularly nutritious. They are high in sugar and contain little fiber, protein, or essential nutrients. They also often contain artificial colors and flavors. However, enjoyed in moderation, they can be part of a balanced diet.
Can you eat maraschino cherries out of the jar?
Yes, you can eat maraschino cherries straight out of the jar. They are fully cooked and preserved in sweet syrup, so they are safe to eat without any further preparation. They make a sweet snack on their own, or you can use them as a garnish for desserts and cocktails.
How long do maraschino cherries last?
Maraschino cherries have a long shelf life thanks to the preserving process. An unopened jar can last up to 3 years in a cool, dark place. Once opened, they should be kept in the refrigerator and can last up to 6 months. Always check for signs of spoilage before eating, such as color, smell, or texture changes.
Can maraschino cherries be frozen?
While you can technically freeze maraschino cherries, it is not generally recommended. Freezing can change the texture of the cherries, making them softer and less pleasant to eat. Since maraschino cherries have a long shelf life in the refrigerator, freezing is usually not necessary.
My Tasty Thoughts on Maraschino Cherries
Maraschino cherries are a great addition to any home cook’s pantry. Their vibrant color and sweet flavor can elevate various dishes, from cocktails to desserts.
However, maraschino cherries might not be for everyone. Their sweetness can be overpowering for some, and they lack the tartness and complexity of fresh cherries. If you prefer more natural flavors, you might find maraschino cherries a bit artificial.
While maraschino cherries are commonly found in most supermarkets, they might not be as readily available in smaller grocery stores or in certain regions. But if you do come across a jar, I encourage you to give them a try. They might just surprise you!