Why Making Your Own Maraschino Cherries Is Never Worth It

They're the final touch on an ice cream sundae, the dazzling accents on glazed ham, and the unmistakable garnish draped over a Manhattan — yes, we're talking about the iconic, Maraschino cherry. Vibrant and sweet, these cherries can add pizzazz, which is why keeping a jar in the pantry is wise. But, while running out of the syrupy morsels might inspire you to make some from scratch, we suggest you think twice. It's almost never worth making your own Maraschino cherries.

Despite the fact that Maraschino cherries are indeed still cherries, don't rely on them providing the same nutritional value as their fresh fruit equivalent. According to Healthline, most are not only stripped of their antioxidants, but they also contain about three times as much sugar and calories as a regular cherry. However, before they morphed into a sugar-laden and fluorescent red version, Maraschino cherries were once darker, nuttier, and only nearly as sweet.

Originally preserved in liquor to extend shelf life, Imbibe shares that the first Maraschino cherries (preserved in sugar and cherry juice) can be traced back to the Luxardo family, makers of an Italian cherry liqueur. Conversely, the ruby red cherries we now recognize as Maraschinos are actually a homegrown creation — brined, dyed, and flavored in a lab — following prohibition, notes VinePair. That said, if you're craving an additive-free Maraschino and want to make your own, that might not be the best idea, and here's why.

A messy and time-consuming feat

Homemade is always best, right? Wrong! The truth is that when it comes to Maraschino cherries, buying store-bought jars of these sweet fruits is almost always a better option than making them yourself. In order to make Maraschino cherries, you first need to find the proper ingredients. Easier said than done.

Food Network recommends saving yourself the wild-goose chase to track down sour cherries (and imported liquor if you're whipping up a boozy rendition) and instead stopping by your favorite specialty store. Despite the fact that it may cost a bit more, investing in a jar of high-quality cherries like the Luxardo variety is well worth it. Plus, given that the cherries are of the highest standards, you can even put any leftover syrup to good use, adding a spoonful in mugs of hot cocoa or fruity cocktails.

Additionally, since Maraschino cherries need to be de-pitted for easier consumption and so that the brining liquid can fully seep into the fruit (via Macheesmo), this can also prove to be quite messy — did we mention that cherry juice stains? Although Good Life Eats shares that you can remove the pits in all sorts of ways from using a paring knife to straws to bobby pins and even a proper cherry pitter, the work remains fairly tedious. Trust us, Maraschino cherries are one ingredient that's best when bought.