What the heck are they anyway??? I often have a small jar in my fridge, ready for the occasional cocktail or, more likely as a treat for kids. I can't remember the last time I actually made a cherry requiring cocktail, my maraschinos are much more apt to end up in a kid's Shirley Temple. My daughter and her friends rediscovered the jar in my fridge, ate them all, then wished for more. So the other day when I was grocery shopping (I needed some club soda for my arpres-torch Mojitos!) I noticed the maraschino cherries and remembered that Sarah wanted them. Being the frugal type and thinking that they all taste the same anyway I decided to buy the big 28 ounce jar of generic brand cherries. I was sure that would be a nearly life long supply until I came home from work yesterday and found the EMPTY bottle on the kitchen counter. My daughter and her friends, in one afternoon, had eaten the entire jar of maraschino cherries. It gives me a stomach ache just thinking about it!
Back to my original question... What is a maraschino cherry anyway? According to the Wikipedia they are cherries preserved in a brine solution, soaked in sugar syrup, dyed and flavored. Red ones are flavored with almond (that's what I like about them) and green ones are flavored with peppermint (news to me as I've never eaten a green one). I found another article that explains they originally where made from a small sour black cherry; the marasca, that where preserved in a liqueur called maraschino, made from the juice, pits and leaves of the marasca. Reading this article made me realize that there is a whole science and industry involved with making maraschinos.
Now I wonder if they all really taste the same? Is there a gourmet version available? Can you actually buy one made with actual marasca cherries anymore? I may have to do a little searching. Perhaps when and if I replenish my supply I buy a couple jars and do a taste test. Probably not too soon, as seeing an entire 28 ounces consumed in afternoon sends up a red flag that says, "No more for a while" to me.