I hate to waste anything food-wise, especially something as wonderful as the juice they pack maraschino cherries in! I may have mentioned here before that maraschino cherries are a childhood favorite, something my grandfather–who was my favorite person on the planet–always fed me when I’d visit. I lost him when I was eleven, but I’ve never lost my taste for those sweet and wonderful red treats!
As part of my holiday gift plans, I bought and dried–among other things–two large jars of maraschinos … but catching the flu delayed my plans for the cherries themselves. Stay tuned! I’ll get back to them! However, draining/drying those cherries also left me with a quart of beautiful, sweet, red maraschino cherry juice. I definitely didn’t want to waste it … and then a thought hit me …
… Maraschino Cherry Juice Jelly
There’s so much sugar in the juice already that I didn’t even bother trying to figure out how to make it no-sugar-added. Why bother? *chuckles* They pack those things in pretty heavy syrup, so this was going to be one of those full-sugar fruit spreads I make on occasion … usually for gift-giving.
I grabbed my favorite jelly pot–the one that fits my burner perfectly from side-to-side and heats fast and evenly–and I combined:
- four cups maraschino cherry juice: reserved out of 2 large jars of Star cherries, and strained to remove any remaining bits of cherry or stem
- two cups of sugar
- four tablespoons bottled lemon juice
- one cup water: I didn’t want to thin the flavor of the juice too much, but I felt like it could be stretched a little and still taste great!
- 1/3rd cup Dutch Jel, which is the equivalent of a standard box of full-sugar pectin
Yes, I did add a couple of cups of sugar to that insanely sweet cherry juice. I know it tastes just WOW! SWEET! … but it just isn’t quite sweet enough for full-sugar jelly straight out of the jar, not without a little help. And–if you think about it–two cups really isn’t all that much in the realm of full-sugar jellies. I’ve seen many of them where you added more sugar than fruit juice, cup-for-cup … so a mere two cups of sugar is really on the low end in this recipe.
Making the jelly was really easy. Put all the ingredients in the pot when they’re cold, and stir well to combine. Make sure all the pectin melts and you don’t leave any lumps behind. If you have problems mixing it in, I’ve found that a stick blender works great. You want it to be this well-mixed:
Turn your burner on high. Bring it all to a good roiling boil.
Boil it for the amount of time it takes to make the jelly set up. How long does that that? Honestly … I don’t know! As I said in my post about remaking sumac jelly, timed jelly recipes never seem to work for me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I live in a very humid place, so it takes my jellies longer to give off enough of their moisture in the cooking process to gel. Maybe it has something to do with the temperature of the burner on my electric stove. I don’t know. All I know is … if the recipe says “once it reaches a hard boil, let it boil for one minute” … then it will end up being syrup for me if I try to time it … not jelly! To get jelly that sets up properly … I have to use the chilled saucer test method.
Here’s what my Maraschino Cherry Juice Jelly looked like right after it passed the Jelly Mound Test, but right before I skimmed that little bit of foam off the top. I love the jewel-tone look of fresh-made, crystal-clear jelly … don’t you?
Last but not least, here’s what my jelly looks like after spending 10 minutes in a BWB!
It’s yummy, too! Oh, my! Sweet, definitely … but that bit of lemon juice comes through nicely, too … knocking a few of the corners off that insane sweetness. I’m really thrilled with it overall … in fact, Maraschino Cheery Juice Jelly has not only just become my favorite way to use leftover maraschino cherry juice … it’s also just hit my permanent roster for fruit spreads! Now I just have to figure out something to do with all the extra cherries.
Darn, I hate when that happens ‘-)