The first test run of the cherries was a big hit. They’re not as strongly flavored as artificial cherries but the flavor was still good. There was not a big syrup component to them despite the amount of sugar which makes me think that more than the 2 tsp that I originally used might be needed depending on the size of the jar you’re using.
My first jar was a 16 oz jar which drank up the sugar pretty quickly. I’m thinking something closer to a cup of sugar per 2 cups of liquor would be a better ratio.
I’ve additionally found that some reniers have come into season. The cherry crop is early this year due to the short warm spring so they’re on the store shelves now. I took an 8 oz jar for this batch and functionally tripled the sugar from the first attempt.
The first jar went to a small gathering and was used for a couple of vesper cocktails and a few manhattans. They were pronounced very passable and I think the next batch with slightly more sugar will be even better. Next attempt after this is to try the same with sour cherries, provided I can find any at the farmers market in the next 1-2 months.
Since it’s only been about a week on the first jar I’m putting it back into soak with some extra sugar and a small amount of vanilla extract just for some fun.
As an aside a trip to one of the better stocked liquor stores in the area netted me the following photo. Those are Luxardo cherries, from the same people who make the liqueur that I’m using to make my own. And yes the sticker is correct. That is an ~13 oz jar going for $22.25. Nothing wrong with them at all, they make a fine cherry and the syrup can be used for a number of things after you’re done with the fruit. But a 750ml bottle of the liqueur will run you about the same and that’s enough for 3-4 small jars easily.
In the category of “put-up or shut-up” I present to you my current project.
Oregon is really the second best place to do this, (the best being Italy). The cherry trees are plentiful, there are a number of different varieties to choose from and we have a long happy growing season all summer.
Step one is almost solved for you, find some good cherries. Much like making a pie sour cherries are nice for this kind of things but Mascara cherries are actually sweet so go wild. I think next time I do this I’m going to find some nice yellow and red ranier’s to give the whole thing some splash. Pit your cherries and remove any stems.
General ingredients and equipment:
1 mason or ball jar with a self sealing lid
enough cherries to fill the jar without having to force them
2 teaspoons of sugar
enough maraschino liqueur to cover the cherries
Step Deux: Fill the jar with enough cherries that it’s not going to be a problem to get the lid on.
Step the Third: Add a small quantity of sugar (2 tsp). I recommend bakers sugar if you have it, it’s finer grained and will dissolve much more quickly.
Step Quatro: Fill the Jar with Maraschino Liqueur. For this run I’m using Luxardo, If I run out I’m going to see if I can find a different brand. Nothing bad on Luxardo I just want to shop around.
Step the Last: Close the Jar, shake until the sugar is fully dissolved, refrigerate. Shake the jar a couple of times a day to keeps things mixed up, and check the jar in a week or so to see how they’re coming along.
Side note: Like most things you make yourself these do not have anything in them to act as a preservative. Even if you’re using canning jars the process we use here isn’t sterile and won’t hold up like freezer jam. Once these start going they won’t stop so plan to use them once they get to the right concentration. If you need a reason I can comfortably point you to my Hard Cherry Limeade which benefits from a good garnish.