Cherries Maraschino: How to Make Your Own + Avoid Harmful Additives

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There’s nothing better than a delicious cherries maraschino on top! Ice cream, cocktails, chocolate covered, and to top off the perfect pineapple upside down cake or cherry bread! Cherries maraschino are a favorite of many! However, I bet you didn’t know with every delicious squishy bite, you’re also eating cancer causing ingredients such as benzidine, bleach and food dyes! Ditch the store bought chemical cherries and stock your shelves with this delicious and healthy option of that classic dessert staple.

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Store Bought Chemicals Galore!

Even a quick glance at the nutrition and ingredients label on a store bought jar of maraschino cherries raises some concerning questions. Like why are there THREE different preservatives? Where are all the vitamins and minerals that cherries naturally contain? What’s red 40? Why does one single cherry contain 10 calories? And of course, ‘natural and artificial flavor’ always raises red flags!

Cherries Maraschino Varieties

Maraschino cherries today are made from the typical cherry varieties such as Gold and Rainier. These are the varieties you can often find in a grocery store and as you probably noticed, they are not as red as the jarred maraschino option. This is because the cherries go through extreme processing steps and additives in order to make them bright red.

store bought vs homemade cherries maraschino

Holy Color & Sugar!

They start with a lovely soak in a bleach solution made with sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride, and then soaked again in a red dye 40 and high fructose corn syrup solution. Finally, they are bottled with a high fructose corn syrup and preservative loaded syrup. The processing adds loads of chemicals and removes all the nutrition out of the cherry. Still sound delicious?

Furthermore, these preservatives, additives and additional ingredients set you on the quick path for illness and disease. Diabetes and insulin resistance, cancers, especially bladder cancer due to the red 40 and the benzidine it adds, obesity, heart disease, just to name a few! You would almost be better off just dumping the sugar jar onto your ice cream and in your cocktail!

All bad things in moderation right?

One store bought maraschino cherry may not set you up for failure, but have you ever been able to just eat one? I had bought a jar to make banana split pie and only used about 6 on the dessert. Next thing I knew, the entire jar was empty and sitting on the floor of my fridge (the place my kids love to leave their trash). Luckily I glanced at the ingredients list then and after further research vowed never to purchase them again.

I was able to find a homemade version of the delicious treat that is alcohol-free, low-sugar, and all natural, which means the cherries get to keep a majority of the nutrition and I can stock my shelves with a much healthier alternative!

How To Make Cherries Maraschino

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Cherries! – Using a sweet variety is preferred but any cherry will give you delicious results. Just keep in mind that you may have to tweak the sugar amount the tarter the cherry, which lowers the nutritional value of your end product.
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Filtered Water
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Almond Extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Medium Pot
  • Pint or Half Pint Jars, Lids, and Rings
  • Whisk or Spoon
  • Water Bath Canner

Optional equipment:

  • Cherry Pitter – I use a sturdy straw (such as the ones for cake supporting), but you could use anything small enough to push the pit out without taking a lot of the cherry meat.

Making Cherries Maraschino

  1. First things first! Wash, pit and remove any damaged or molding cherries from your batch.
  2. Prepare your jars by washing in hot soapy water and sterilizing in a hot water bath. Prepare your lids and rings as well.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the filtered water and sugar and stir continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  5. Fill each jar with cherries until there is a 1/4 inch headspace and carefully pour the hot syrup over the top until the cherries are covered.
  6. De-bubble your jars before wiping the rims to remove any sticky syrup that might have dribbled and ensure a good seal.
  7. Put on the lids and rings until just finger tight.
  8. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  9. The cherries may also be enjoyed right away by placing them in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Just remember that the longer they soak in the syrup the tastier they will be!

Maraschino Cherries

Ditch the chemical laded store bought cherries and opt for these delicious, low-sugar, non-alcoholic, healthy maraschino cherries!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Water Bath Processing Time10 minutes
Servings: 5 Pints


  • 5 Pint Jars Lids and Rings
  • Stock Pot
  • Cherry Pitter, optional
  • Stirring Utensil


  • 3-4 lbs Cherries
  • 3 c. Sugar
  • 3 c. Water, Filtered
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Almond Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon, Ground


  • Wash, pit and remove stems from the cherries, discarding any damaged or rotting ones.
  • Sterilize jars, lids and rings according to recommended procedure or as mentioned above.
  • In a large pot over medium heat, combine the water and sugar and continuously stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Stir in extracts and cinnamon to combine.
  • Fill the jars with cherries up to the 1/4 inch headspace and top with the hot syrup.
  • De-bubble, wipe the rims, and place on the lids and rings.
  • Place in a water bath canner and turn to high temp. Allow the water to come to a rolling boil before beginning a 10 minute timer.
  • Allow the jars to process and rest for another 5 minutes before removing from the water and placing on the counter for at least 12 hours.
  • Label, date and store! Keep any opened jars in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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