cherry

From Imitation to Authentic and Back Again: The Maraschino Cherry

We came into possession of a few pounds of fresh sour cherries (Hey, so, we went a bit overboard at the U-pick, OK? Audrey's currently canning 16 pounds of strawberry jam).

I've been googling about for ideas, and came across the concept (which I've latched on to) of creating homemade, HFC and Red-5 -free maraschino cherries. Authentic ones, as sour cherries and marasca (get it? marasca => maraschino?) cherries are not too disilimar. No, not the "authentic" ones like from the stores, or as described in ye olde southern housewife's bible of preserving, the Ball Blue Book.

What we currently think of as authentic Maraschino cherries is defined by a post-prohibition editing of history 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" (-- FDA.gov).

Compare that to the description of the 1912 USDA guidelines for the same: "Food Inspection Decision 141, issued in 1912 under the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, stated that "maraschino cherries" should be applied only to marasca cherries preserved in maraschino. This decision further described maraschino as a liqueur or cordial prepared by process of fermentation and distillation from the marasca cherry, a small variety of the European wild cherry indigenous to the Dalmatian Mountains."

That's downright D.O.C. And further; "Products prepared from cherries of the Royal Anne type, artificially colored and flavored and put up in flavored sugar sirup might be labeled "Imitation Maraschino Cherries" or, if there was no reference to "Maraschino," might be labeled to show that they are preserved cherries, artificially colored and flavored.""

The lowly imitation maraschino cherry is now the real deal, and we somehow lost the liqueur qualities at the same time.

Marasca Cherries (Image from wikipedia)

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