I had a few reservations about putting up this post only because as refreshingly bubbly and satisfying as this drink is one of its three ingredients is maraschino cherries. And as you may have realized maraschino cherries are not exactly organic. In fact I’m pretty sure they don’t come by their neon coloring naturally. I don’t think Cheetos do either, but I digress. After a moment of consideration I thought why not this is too good to keep to myself.
Not long ago I made a strawberry cream cake that required Kirsch in the strawberry filling and as the grocery store I was in did not sell alcohol (Kirsch is a brandy distilled from cherry juice and pits) I had to improvise. I purchased a jar of maraschino cherries so I could use the “cherry juice”. I got the smallest jar available knowing I would never have a use for the tiny, syrup-macerated, cherries in my cooking. I knew they would sit in my refrigerator until they were old enough and I could, without guilt, toss them out by telling myself they’d gone bad.
Months later the flaming red orbs were still in my refrigerator sheltered in their syrupy juices looking plump and bright as ever and I couldn’t bring myself to toss them. I also didn’t have a clue as what to do with them. Maraschino cherries don’t have the best reputation. They are cherries preserved in a syrup made of mostly high fructose corn syrup and lots of other things I can’t pronounce stuffed into a jar and destined to stay in said jar macerating away until they are either garnished on some drink or sundae or thrown away.
In my home we drink lots of seltzer and sparkling water in lieu of soda. I call it fizzy water, a name given to bubbly water by my friend Natasha . Sparkling water serves a purpose for me by satisfying my craving for bubbly drinks without having to drink soda. After awhile plain sparkling water can become boring and the old squeeze of lime or lemon sometimes just won’t do.
On a particularly thirsty day I decided I’d make a syrup to add to my sparkling water by muddling the maraschino cherries with limes. Muddling is the quickest way to extract juice from lemons and limes plus you get maximum flavor because the peel is left on as you muddle and you get the benefit of the fruity oils on the peel. Its how I make my lemonade. For this reason you should use organic limes or lemons or clean store lemons well before muddling.
This drink idea came about solely out of convenience-I wanted something sweet and fruity to add to my plain sparkling water. You certainly don’t have to use maraschino cherries-any fruit can be cooked down and strained and added to seltzer water. I’m just saying if you happen to have a jar of maraschino cherries hanging out in your fridge here’s something you can do with it.
Recipe: Cherry-lime fizz
Note: this is deliciously tart and sweet
3 organic limes rinsed and cut into quarters
10 maraschino cherries plus 1-2 tablespoons of juice
1 cup of sugar
Place all ingredients in a large pitcher and with a wooden spoon or muddler mash down (aggressively) on the limes and cherries until all the juices are extracted and the sugar has dissolved. Strain the juices into a clean bowl pressing the fruit with the muddler to get all the liquid out.
In a saucepan large enough to hold the juices and over medium heat carefully cook the liquid down until it become somewhat thick and syrupy. Cool completely.
Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Use a tablespoon or so to add to sparkling water whenever you feel like.