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Our quest for the best maraschino cherries ended when we bought a jar of Luxardo cherries. Discover why Luxardo cherries are so special and then discover 5 great ways that you can use them at home.
We’re obsessed with cherries.
This obsession has motivated us to hunt for Vignola cherries in Emilia-Romagna and hike for Romanian cherries in Transylvania’s Kisdisznod Hills.
We don’t mind hiking through hilly forests and exploring ancient villages. However, cherry season is limited and cherries are only at their prime for a few weeks each year.
We also have a thing for maraschino cherries. But, even if we had constant access to amazing sour cherries, cooking and candying a cluster would be quite a chore to do ourselves.
So, in most cases, we happily lick cones topped with amarena (sour cherry) gelato instead. We’ve made this sweet sacrifice in Italian cities like Bologna, Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice and Verona just to name a few.
Amarena cherries are great but we’ve upped our cherry love a notch since discovering Luxardo. Not only are we using Luxardo cherries as part of our lazy mixology journey, but we’ve also found a number of great ways to utilize what we think may be the world’s best candied cherries.
The History of Luxardo Cherries
“If a man can… make a better mousetrap… the world will make a beaten path to his door.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Luxardo has made a better mousetrap that’s filled with maraschino cherries instead of cheese. This jar of deep red, practically black beauties also sports a juicy origin story to boot.
No overnight sensation, Girolamo Luxardo started producing candied marasca cherries more than a century ago. He made small batches at his family’s distillery in a Zara, Italy (now Zadar, Croatia) without using any preservatives or artificial colors.
After suffering hardships during the second world war, the Luxardo family relocated their cherry operation from Croatia’s Dalmatia Coast to Torreglia, Italy with a marasca sapling in tow. In addition to that sapling, the Luxardo family also brought their top quality recipes.
The Luxardo family still produces maraschino cherries but now they do it in Veneto’s Padua province between Verona and Venice. All these years later, the word Luxardo has become synonymous with maraschino cherries.
Why Are Luxardo Cherries Special?
Make no mistake – a jar of Luxardo cherries is a luxury item. Priced at €12 in Lisbon, the jar’s price is more than four times the cost of a jar of neon-red cocktail cherries at the grocery store. Ouch!
Although we love a good bargain, we actually consider this price to be fair. Not only is the intense flavor in each ebony orb sensational, but the rich flavor of Luxardo’s sweet syrup made with sour cherries is equally divine.
5 Ways to Use Luxardo Maraschino Cherries
It’s no surprise that Luxardo cherries are ideal for cocktails. The jar literally makes this assertion. Despite this recommended use on their jars, Luxardo’s maraschino cherries aren’t a one trick pony (or should we say one stem cherry?).
Being creative cooks and crafty mixologists, we’ve discovered a range of uses for the versatile Italian food product. Once you buy your first Luxardo jar and are ready to experiment, we suggest you start with the following ideas:
Some people buy a jar of Luxardo cherries to garnish cocktails in their home bar and never use the jar for any other purpose. While we don’t agree with this approach, we totally get the motivation.
Luxardo cherries are an ideal finishing touch that makes a great cocktail even greater. We currently use these luxurious cherries to garnish Manhattan and Old Fashioned bourbon cocktails. In the future, we may also use them to craft gin drinks like the Aviator and Last Word.
We see these cherries working in as many alcoholic drinks that our thirsty imaginations allow, plus a Shirley Temple or two. Heck, we could probably add them to any liquor, straight up or on the rocks, and be happy with the resulting drink.
Take your mixology to the next level with a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur. You can add the sweet elixir into cocktails, drizzle it over fruit or imbibe it in tiny glasses.
If you agree with the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then you’ll surely want to enhance that important meal with a few Luxardo cherries. It just makes sense.
As for us, we like to start our day by adding a few cherries to a bowl of Greek or artisan yogurt. Another breakfast idea is to drizzle Luxardo syrup over pancakes or french toast for an extra special start to the day. Daryl even wants to try them with Frosted Flakes.
3. Cheese Board
Adding Luxardo cherries to a cheese plate is a tasty game changer. If you’re wondering which cheese pairs best with maraschino cherries, we recommend that you create a board with your favorite wedges to find out what YOU like best.
Copy us if you’re feeling overwhelmed. We included wedges of funky Cabrales and sheepy Manchego as well as a wheel of washed rind Au lait cru Époisses on our latest cheese plate. They all tasted great paired with Luxardo cherries.
Savory sauces made with Luxardo’s sweet cherries and even sweeter cherry syrup complement meats like duck and even chicken. When done right, the yin of the savory sauce takes on a sweet yang that will make you say “yum” in glee.
We developed a savory pan sauce recipe using Luxardo cherries, Luxardo syrup, red wine, tarragon, shallots and butter. We then drizzled the sauce over pan roasted duck breast to create a birthday dinner that was nothing short of a celebration on our plate.
We saved the best for last – dessert.
A spoonful of Luxardo cherries is the ultimate dessert topping. Whether the dessert is a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream or a decadent slice of cheesecake, these cherries just work.
Dedicated dessert lovers will want to go further and add Luxardo cherries to a loaded ice cream float or sundae while bakers won’t resist using leftover Luxardo syrup in their cake recipes.
5 Frequently Asked Questions
It’s obvious that we’ve piqued your interest. If you still have questions, we have answers:
Each Luxardo jar has approximately 50 maraschino cherries.
Yes. Each cherry packs a punch. Since these are maraschino cherries on steroids, 30 cents per cherry is a great value in our book.
No. Luxardo uses sugar and marasca cherry juice to create its cherry syrup.
No. However, Luxardo cherries last longer when refrigerated. The difference is 6 to 12 months in the refrigerator compared to 1 to 2 months in the pantry.
No. You can make homemade maraschino cherries but they won’t be Luxardo cherries. Only Luxardo makes true Luxardo cherries.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.