I love cherries in my Manhattans. Like most people, I started buying cheap, red maraschino cherries at the grocery store. I then worked my way up to luxury Luxardo maraschinos from the liquor store. A jar of these were running about $20. Good cherries are worth the price, but I started pondering canning my own luxury cherries at home.

What I found is that this is an easy waterbath canning project that is perfect when cherry season is in full swing. All you need is sugar, water, cherries, and Luxardo liqueur. Buy cherries that are firm. You can use sour cherries or Bing – just buy the best possible. This recipe can use pitted or unpitted cherries. Pitted are great if you don’t want the hassle when eating them. However, unpitted cherries hold their shape better during the canning process and the pits add a nice almond-like flavor to the final product.

You will need clean 4 oz or pint jars and closures, a boiling-water canner, rack, jar lifter, canning funnel, and wooden skewer. I personally like to use 4 oz jars for this project. A pint jar is a lot of cherries and once you open the jar you have about a week or so to consume them. I find making many smaller jars is easier on the consumption end.

Preservation method: Waterbath canning

Difficulty level: Easy

Luxardo Cocktail Cherries

Makes about seven 8-ounce jars or 16 4-ounce jars

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups water

5 cups cherries with pits OR 7 1/2 cups pitted cherries

1 1/2 tsp Luxardo liqueur per jar

Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner, then place empty jars on the rack. Add water to the jars and the canner until the jars are about two-thirds full. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Keep lids hot until ready to use.

In a large stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cherries, stirring constantly, and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, pack cherries and hot syrup into hot jars to within a generous 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon of Luxardo liqueur to each jar. Remove air bubbles with wooden skewer and adjust headspace if necessary by adding more hot syrup. Wipe rim with moistened towel. Center lids onto jars. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tip tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water.

Bring to a boil and process 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.