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What Is the Difference Between Maraschino Cherries & Candied Cherries?

by
author image Steve Hamilton
Steve Hamilton has been writing professionally since 1983. His credits include novels under the Dell imprint and for Harlequin Worldwide. A remodeling and repair specialist with over 20 years experience, he is also a Certified Pool Operator and holds an EPA Universal refrigerant certification.
What Is the Difference Between Maraschino Cherries & Candied Cherries?
Maraschino cherries. Photo Credit MillefloreImages/iStock/Getty Images

That bright red maraschino cherry adorning the top of your ice cream sundae evolved from a treat reserved for royalty. As a child you popped them into your mouth without a second thought. Now you probably look at them and wonder if they are even real cherries, especially those bits and pieces of candied cherry in fruitcake.

A Colorful History

What Is the Difference Between Maraschino Cherries & Candied Cherries?
Sour cherries. Photo Credit gojak/iStock/Getty Images

Centuries ago in the Adriatic region, sour marasca cherries were preserved with liqueur as treats for royalty and the rich. The delicacy eventually made its way to upscale American establishments in the 1800s. Prohibition put a squeeze on the liqueur used in maraschino cherry production, reinforcing a trend toward a method using brine similar to pickles. This more modern method ensured an affordable supply of sweet, bright red maraschino cherries for everyone.

Maraschino Cherries

What Is the Difference Between Maraschino Cherries & Candied Cherries?
Rainier cherries. Photo Credit Stoyko Sabotanov/iStock/Getty Images

Maraschino cherries today are made with different varieties of sweet cherries such as Royal Ann and Rainier. After soaking in brine to preserve and crisp the cherries, they are pitted and rinsed, then sweetened with corn syrup. The bright red comes from food coloring. The classic flavor of a red maraschino cherry is predominantly almond extract, while the green variety are usually peppermint. Most maraschino cherries wind up as a garnish on ice cream and baked goods or in cocktails.

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Candied Cherries

What Is the Difference Between Maraschino Cherries & Candied Cherries?
Candied cherries. Photo Credit Dave White/iStock/Getty Images

Candied cherries, also called glace cherries, are essentially maraschino cherries that have been processed further by cooking them in thick flavored syrup. This gives them a texture and intense sweetness similar to other candied fruits such as orange peel and pineapple. Although candied cherries are available all year, they make a special appearance at Christmas on trays of sweets and in fruitcakes.

The Cherry On Top

What Is the Difference Between Maraschino Cherries & Candied Cherries?
Soak fresh cherries. Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

With a sugar content nearly three times that of a fresh cherry, maraschino cherries are intended as a treat. That goes double for candied cherries, which have almost twice the sugar of a maraschino. Like raisins, these sweet treats do have some positive nutritional aspects. In a report for the National Cherry Growers and Industries Foundation, food and nutrition consultant Roberta L. Duyff reports that cherries contain a variety of antioxidants, including anthocyanin, as well as quercetin, a flavanoid that might actually increase with processing. To try a lighter version, soak fresh cherries for several weeks in either maraschino liqueur or a flavored syrup without dye and less sugar.

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