By an early age, many of us know what a maraschino cherry is, but few people ever know exactly how maraschino cherries originated or what goes into making one. As experts on the subject, we’re here to clear up a few things.
Myth: The maraschino cherry was invented at Oregon State University.
Fact: Ernest Wiegand, a professor at OSU, is credited with perfecting the modern process of making maraschinos, but maraschino cherries had been around long before that. They originated in what is now Croatia, made from Marasca cherries that were preserved in an Italian liqueur called maraschino.
Myth: Prohibition inspired the modern process of making maraschinos, because manufacturers couldn’t use alcohol to preserve the cherries anymore.
Fact: According to Bob Cain, who worked with Wiegand at OSU, Prohibition didn’t have anything to do with Wiegand’s research; his focus was on how to make a better brining process for cherries. Although the original maraschinos were soaked in a liqueur called “maraschino,” there were additional preservation methods besides alcohol used to make them (long before Prohibition went into effect and before Wiegand began his research). Wiegand’s motivation was to improve the preservation process to result in a crisper maraschino – regardless of Prohibition.
Myth: Maraschinos have an indefinite shelf life.
Fact: Different maraschinos have different shelf-lives – none of which are indefinite. The shelf-life of maraschinos ranges from a few weeks to a few months (once opened), to 18 months in sealed packages, depending on the type of maraschino.
Myth: All maraschinos are made with preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.
Fact: Some maraschinos are made with preservatives. But just as Wiegand improved the maraschino-making process many years ago, Oregon Cherry Growers has improved upon it again, to produce a line of maraschinos made with 100% natural ingredients, free from preservatives, artificial colors and artificial flavors.