Maraschino Cherries


A preserved, sweetened cherry often used as a garnish in cocktails, dessert and baked ham. These come in both red and green varieties, with the red cherries flavored with almond and the green ones sometimes flavored with mint.


Other names: Cocktail Cherries
Translations: Maraschino Ķirši, Maraschino Vyšnios, Maraschino Cireşe, Maraschino trešnje, Maraschino Wiśnie, Maraschino Kersen, Maraschino चेरी, Cerejas Maraschino, Марашино вишней, Maraschino Κεράσια, Maraschino الكرز, 마라 스 키노 버찌, Maraschino Třešně, Cheri Ceri, Maraschino seresa, 马拉希诺樱桃, Les cireres maraschino, Maraschino Češnje, Maraschino Čerešne, Maraschino Ciliegie, דובדבנים מסוכר, Maraschino Körsbär, Марасцхино Трешње, マラスキーノチェリー, Cerises au marasquin, Maraschino Kirschen, Maraschino Kirsebær, Maraskino Moreller, Las cerezas maraschino, Марашіно вишнею, Maraschino kirsikat, Мараскино Череши

Physical Description

A maraschino cherry (pronounced /ˌmærəˈskiːnoʊ/) is a preserved, sweetened cherry, typically made from light-colored sweet cherries such as the Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties. The cherries are first preserved in a brine solution usually containing sulfur dioxide or alcohol, then soaked in a suspension of food coloring (common red food dye, FD&C Red 40), sugar syrup, and other components. Maraschino cherries dyed red are typically almond-flavored, while cherries dyed green are sometimes peppermint-flavored.

Colors: Bright Red

Tasting Notes

Flavors: Sweet, Delicious
Mouthfeel: Like a grape
Food complements: Cakes, Pies
Beverage complements: Club soda
Substitutes: Cherries, Raspberries

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Check to see if cherries are bruised and discolored. You want the brightest, natural looking cherries.
Buying: You can purchase at your local Grocery Store or Farmers Market.

Preparation and Use

Maraschino cherries are an ingredient in many cocktails. As a garnish, they often decorate baked ham, cakes, pastry, parfaits, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes, and ice cream sodas. They are also used as an accompaniment to sweet paan.

Cleaning: You may rinse with cool water.

Conserving and Storing

Store in refrigerator in cold temps.


History: The name maraschino refers to the marasca cherry and the maraschino liqueur made from it, in which maraschino cherries were originally preserved. They were, at first, produced for and consumed as a delicacy by royalty and the wealthy.

In the U.S.

The cherries were first introduced in the United States in the late 19th century, where they were served in fine bars and restaurants. By the turn of the century, American producers were experimenting with flavors such as almond extract and substituting Queen Anne cherries for marasca cherries. In 1912, the USDA defined "maraschino cherries" as "marasca cherries preserved in maraschino" under the authority of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906. The artificially colored and sweetened Royal Anne variety had to be called "Imitation Maraschino Cherries" instead. Food Inspection Decision 141, defined marasca cherries and maraschino themselves. It was signed on Feb. 17, 1912.

During Prohibition in the United States as of 1920, the decreasingly popular alcoholic variety was illegal as well. Ernest H. Wiegand, a professor of horticulture at Oregon State University, developed the modern method of manufacturing maraschino cherries using a brine solution rather than alcohol. Thus, most modern maraschino cherries have only a historical connection with the liqueur maraschino.

According to Bob Cain, who worked with Wiegand at OSU, Prohibition did not have anything to do with Wiegand's research: His quest was to make a better brining process for cherries that would not soften them. At the time Wiegand began his research, people were using several ways to preserve maraschino cherries without alcohol, long before Prohibition went into effect. What Wiegand did, Payne says, was take a process that people had their own recipes for—"and who knows what they were putting in there" (frequently not alcohol)—and turned it into a science, something replicable.

When Wiegand began his research, sodium metabisulfite was being used to preserve maraschino cherries. Some accounts indicate that this preservation method was being used long before Prohibition.

Some manufacturers used maraschino or imitation liqueurs to flavor the cherries, but newspaper stories from the early part of the century suggest that many manufacturers stopped using alcohol before Prohibition.

After Prohibition was repealed in 1933 the Food and Drug Administration revisited federal policy towards canned cherries. It held a hearing in April 1939 to establish a new standard of identity. Since 1940, "maraschino cherries" have been defined as "cherries which have been dyed red, impregnated with sugar and packed in a sugar sirup [sic] flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor".



Related Cooking Videos