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Your Guide To DIY Alcohol-Free Maraschino Cherries For Mocktails

By: Shreya Goswami

Maraschino Cherries

A decade or two back, making mocktails for teetotalers was simply not the art form that it is today—which is perhaps the reason why you might wonder if any effort even needs to be put into preparing cherries for your homemade mocktails. But here’s a little something anyone interested in making the best mocktails for their house parties should know: Making mocktails is not just about infusing different syrups and juices together. And a single Maraschino cherry in your mocktail can elevate the beverage to extraordinary levels. How? 

Well, contrary to the popular belief, cherries are not just garnishes in cocktails and mocktail. In fact, if you use Maraschino cherries for your mocktails and give them the same TLC that cocktail cherries get, then you will have a gem of an ingredient at hand to create the best mocktails you can imagine. For those unaware, Maraschino cherries are hero ingredients from the Balkans and the Mediterranean that were first produced in the city of Zadar in Croatia in the early 19th century.  

Maraschino cherries are sweet, deep red in colour and when steeped properly, they turn more aromatic and juicier still. Of course, purists will tell you that the best way to preserve Maraschino cherries for cocktails and mocktails is to steep them in a liqueur made from their pits and leaves. But the fact is, you can easily make the best steeping liquid for Maraschino cherries at home without any hassles. Read on to know how. 

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What You Need For Alcohol-Free Maraschino Cherries 

While most cocktail cherries, Maraschino or otherwise, are steeped in a blend of alcohol and sugar syrup, skipping on the alcohol for your mocktails is a good idea. So, in effect what you will need for your alcohol-free Maraschino cherries for cocktails is a simple sugar syrup, plenty of Maraschino cherries, and flavour enhancers like spices and fruits. Since this Maraschino cherry steeping liquid will be alcohol-free, look for as many flavouring agents as you can, ranging from orange peels to cinnamon and nutmeg to extracts of vanilla, almonds and more. This apart, you will also require sterilised glass jars with lids that can be sealed properly. Any gaps or cracks in these jars will spoil the cherries.   

Alcohol-Free Maraschino Cherries: A Step-by-Step Guide 

Preparing your Maraschino cherries for the ultimate mocktail experience at your next house party is the easiest thing in the world. Here is a step-by-step guide to making alcohol-free Maraschino cherries for your mocktails. 

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Step 1. Prep The Cherries 

Wash the cherries thoroughly and repeatedly, then place them in a colander to let the water drain out. Let the cherries dry out completely before proceeding to the next step. You can also use a kitchen towel to wipe them dry if you need. Now, you can either pit the cherries or remove their stems or keep them whole for a better look. 

Step 2. Sterilise The Jars 

This step is crucial and cannot be skipped, so boil water in a large pot. Add the glass jar and lid to the boiling water and continue boiling for three minutes.  Remove carefully from the water and let the jar and lid air dry completely before filling them up. 

Step 3. Make The Syrup 

Combine equal parts sugar and water in a large saucepan, then heat the mixture over medium heat. Keep stirring to ensure that all the sugar granules are dissolved. Cook the syrup for a minute or two more, then let it cool down completely before proceeding to the next step.  

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Step 4. Infusion Process 

Place the cherries into the sterilised jars while ensuring that they are not overpacked. This is because as time passes, the cherries will swell up in size and this can get limited if there isn’t enough space in the jar. Now add a few drops of vanilla extract, almond extract, orange peels, cinnamon stick, grated nutmeg etc. 

Step 5. Pour The Syrup 

Now, pour the cooled syrup over the cherries and make sure the cherries are completely submerged. There is not need to stir this infusion. Make sure there is a small gap beteen the tip of the syrup and the jar lid to make space for expansion.  

Step 6. Store Safely 

Seal the jars tightly and make sure that they are stored away in a cool, dark place for at least a week. This time period will allow the flavours of the infusion to be steeped into the Maraschino cherries, after which you can add them to your mocktails for the ultimate, flavourful, alcohol-free drinks.