Developing a ‘Sugar-Free’ Maraschino Cherries recipe is an absolute necessity. Why? Because the maraschino cherry is one truly the most iconic of all cocktail garnishes, and also a pivotal ingredient in Christmas cake. Admittedly, if you like Christmas cake, that is – as you either do or don’t with that kind of thing, without much in between.
But those bright red maraschino cherries are full of chemicals and sugar, so even one would bump up your total carbs for the day. I like to savour each net carb I take in, so squandering my carbs on a sugary chemical-laden cherry cannot be borne. This recipe, will give you ‘Sugar-Free’ Maraschino Cherries that will come out full of flavour but will be darker in colour than the raw cherry. Trust me, they are delicious.
Later this year, I’ll follow up with another recipe with less alcohol, and a bleaching process for the cherries to mimic the bright red cherries we know more commonly. Also seen in the beloved, love it or hate it, Christmas cake. Back to this recipe though.
First, when making this, unless you live close to Croatia, the cherry you’ll use, is not the right cherry. That’s because both the Liqueur and the maraschino cherry are made from sour Marasca cherries. And that variety only grows in the sandy soil of Croatia.
Apparently, a trial was even attempted to grow Marascas Cherries in North America. However, the flavour wasn’t the same, so the whole notion was abandoned.
It’s pretty easy to make your own maraschinos from fresh cherries. There are lots of recipes out there, but I adapted mine from my favourite recipe by Amy Wisniewski on chowhound.com. Her recipe best mimics the maraschino process. That’s because it’s the pits that give both the maraschino cherry and Liqueur its characteristic nutty background flavor, which is often mistaken for almonds.
In my recipe, I adapted the sugar (obviously) and the alcohol mix. Also, merely making the brine with Liqueur would be far too much sugar. So, I used a combination of over-proof white rum and Luxardo. I did this because white over-proof white rum tends to have some fruit notes that add to the flavour profile.
You could use over-proof vodka or Everclear (if you are in the U.S.). However, the Wray and Nephew over-proof white rum is easier to get in Canada (necessity is the mother of invention). Plus, it turned out the combination of the two worked out great in the finished product.
I selected Allulose as my sweetener of choice. Erythritol, which I also love as a sweetener, would crystallize when stored in the fridge. However, I prefer to keep this in the fridge.
The end result is a boozy cherry flavour that is really quite divine. You do need to give it a couple of weeks for the cherries to really capture the taste of the brine. Still, I have been known to dip in beforehand—that said, their flavour is boozier when you do that.
Making the ‘Sugar-Free’ Maraschino Cherries recipe is relatively simple. However, you do need a cherry pitter to save your sanity. I have a hand one and was able to do a fairly big batch within fifteen minutes. After pitting a few, you get the hang of it.
When pitting for cocktail garnishes, you want to save the stem. So, you need to place the cherry in the pitter on its side, or to the side of the stem, so the pitting process doesn’t remove it. If you are making these for baking purposes, it doesn’t really matter.
Then there is the fun part of smashing the cherry pits. Also easy, and a great way to get out the frustrations of the day.
The rest of the recipe is fairly straight forward from there. You should have your jars in the fridge steeping within an hour, including the ½ hour it takes for the syrup to cool. Let me know how yours turns out.
Looking for a scrumptious cocktail to make, not that you have your garnish? Try my Keto ‘Fat Bomb’ in a cocktail Piña Colada. It is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Nutritional Information and portions are estimated from the USDA Food Database. Net carbs exclude fiber, sugar alcohols, and products like allulose, because they do not generally affect blood sugar. I try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
Welcome! I'm Nikkey Elizabeth.
Hi! My name is Nikkey Elizabeth and this me, after cutting down raspberry canes in my snow shoes. La Femme Nikketo is a combination of two dreams, making delicious sugar-free products that you’d never guess where sugar-free and transforming the farm my husband and I have, The Farm in Glenville, into a working farm where we grow what we make. Together these sugar-free dreams offer boutique farm-to-table preserves and confections, all made here on our farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Where are you located?
Our farm is located in Glenville, Nova Scotia. It’s a little hamlet between Mabou and Inverness on the island of Cape Breton.
My Jam looks separated, what do I do?
Our sugar-free jams are natural products. Because we are sugar-free and use all-natural products, from time to time ‘fruit float’ can happen to fruit like strawberry or rhubarb during the canning process leaving pulp at the top and jelly on the bottom. If this occurred with your jam, don’t worry, it’s just as delicious as all our other jams. When this happens, we encourage our customers to dig in and mix it up!!!
What does it mean you’re sold out for the season?
We are a farm-to-table business, where we believe strongly in growing a large proportion of what we make. Sometimes, if there are other local growers that have supplies beyond our own, we may top-up our fruit or berry inventory (this is especially true with Blueberries as our bushes are young and our neighbour has acres of stunning wild blueberries!). However, for the most part, we grow what we make and when we run out, that’s it until next year. Every year our capacity grows so we hope to run out a little later each year.
I just bought from you at a market, will those items be on your website?
For the most part, yes, but not yet, or soon. If you are reading this and we are still in a growing season, I usually am so busy farming, making, and selling at my local farmer’s markets that I don’t have a chance to update my website. However, once the farmers markets at the end of Thanksgiving Weekend (That’s the second weekend of October here in Canada), I usually put aside time to update the website with all the current products. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I post when that happens.
Why don’t you use the same sweetener in all your products?
Sometimes I feel that by producing sugar-free goods, you have to be part magician, chemist, and explorer. There are so many sugar-free sweeteners out there and not one of them behaves exactly like sugar. Each of them has its positive and negative qualities depending on the application. For instance, I use a lot of allulose, not never in meringue, because it loves water too much, so you could back that meringue for hours and it would still be sticky.
Are there sweeteners you don’t use in your products?
Yes, there are a few. I don’t use artificial sweeteners at all. Next, I’m not a fan of stevia because of the after taste so I don’t use that either. Also, I don’t use xylitol as it’s toxic to dogs. I love dogs and have an adorable retired racing greyhound myself who is an expert at catching what falls on the floor before anyone can get to it first — he’s that fast. As such, if I wouldn’t have any food with xylitol in my house, just in case it could fall on the floor and could be consumed by my super-fast houndie, I won’t put in my products just in case for your puppies too. Finally, I don’t use products like maltitol or mannitol, as they are notorious for upsetting the stomach.
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