I was the recipient of a number of wonderful christmas presents, including the digital kitchen scale I have longed for, which has the distinction of being the both the first, and the second item ever purchased from my Amazon wish list (Somehow, 2 people managed to purchase the same item, which I had thought impossible. Sorting it out involves me getting to pick out yet another goodie-I'm feeling well and truly spoiled.) There were excellent books, dvds, more nifty kitchen items, and even a cashmere sweater of lush softness. But this particular gift is just so fine.
You may, perhaps, recall my whinging about my inability to buy Maraschino Liquor anywhere in Pennsylvania. I wanted to get some badly after I read in the New York Times earlier this year about making maraschino cherries. It suddenly became immensely important to me that I have a jar of real maraschino cherries, without corn syrup, red dye, et al., made by soaking unadulterated real cherries in unadulterated maraschino liquor.
It is not that I have a manhattan, or a hot fudge sundae, or a pineapple upside down cake on a daily basis. But these things do sometimes just inexplicably grab me. I was not a happy camper when I was informed that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board had decided that Pennsylvania residents did not need this item, so that it was not available at any liquor store in the state. I could not buy it here, even if I was willing to wait for it to be shipped in from a warehouse in another county.
As often happens in the Toast family, my one and only child had also read the article and independently decided that she needed some real maraschino cherries. (I cannot tell you the number of times I have googled something and wound up looking at her hungry tiger.) She was, however, on her way to Italy for a conference at the time, and by the time we discussed it, she was back with her bottle of the goods. When you are an employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you never go to a conference anywhere more thrilling than Harrisburg. Envy was the nice word for it.
So, when I opened the long skinny present on Christmas Day, and saw that she and S. had given me this, I was pretty well over the moon. They found it visiting Providence, at a fancy Federal Hill liquor store. (They live in Ohio, where the liquor stores are also dire.) There was a definite element of selflessness involved in actually turning it over to me-I know this well. I am hugely tickled to have it, and intend to pour a portion of it over a big jar full of defrosted pitted organic frozen cherries asap.
Cocktails to follow.
Addendum: Spotted a small bag of hard South American cherries at the market, and decided it would be nice to have some stems on my maraschinos. So- I abandoned plans for the frozen cherries, washed these guys and filled two pint jars to the top. (I didn't pit them-there's that almondy flavor to be gained from the pits, a perfect excuse for laziness.) I added a wee bit of simple sugar syrup and filled to the top with my lovely christmas present. I'll give them a few weeks at the dark side of the pantry shelf, and then (after tasting) move to the fridge.
Further Addendum: (see comment in response to Matthew, below) If you search this blog for "maraschino" you will find an update. Turned out that the fresh and frozen cherries were a bust- but dried cherries worked very well indeed. I heartily recommend poring this stuff over every dried cherry you can find.