So I got a little momentum on this project in, like, August or something, except I had some sore disappointments, all in a row, that kinda scared me off for another several months, apparently, and I just haven’t really found my way back into the kitchen for much other than chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
One of these disappointments was maraschino cherries, since the fruit was in season (at the time, now so long ago) and it was another one of those posts that were supposed to be MY MASTERPIECE. And while I ended up with a whole array of beautiful photos, I also ended up with salty, inedible and downright gross cherries.
I found two recipes on the internet for these, one of which called for salt as a brining agent, the other which had just a little bit of salt and alum. Then I thought “hey, what’s all this dye about,” and set up a little Latin Square experiment testing the different combinations. Unless you’ve recently studied that especially titillating branch of Mathematics called Statistics, the last time you probably thought about a Latin Square was in Sophomore year of high school when your biology teacher taught you all about Mendel’s experiments. Here’s what mine looked like:
|Alum with dye||Alum without dye|
|Salt with dye||Salt without dye|
After a laborious three-day process of brining, rinsing, parboiling & refrigerating, I ended up with salty cherries, poorly preserved, and not a thing like the fluorescent red maraschino babies you find at the grocery store. And that’s not in a good way, either, like “oh man, these are WAY better than store-bought cherries!” No no, it was like “how could so much effort & care end so very badly.”
So while I hate to update for the first time in months with a fail post, the pictures really are awfully pretty, and maybe someone who has done this before can tell me where I went wrong.
It all starts with cherry pitting, which is made easier with this Iron Maiden-like device. And just in time for Halloween!
At this point, our cherries are still not only edible, but delicious what’s more!
After one day of brining, we have the alum solution on the left and the salt solution on the right. The alum really pulls its weight as a superior preservative and brought out a truly beautiful color from the cherries.
After three days of brining & rinsing, the alum-treated cherries are looking rather lovely…
…particularly when compared to the salt-treated cherries, which resemble nothing so much as wounds resulting from grievous kitchen accidents that have been under a bandaid for two days.
But we forge onward, draining, rinsing, new brine.
And then I used my patented “covering any old bowl” technique for keeping flies, dust & curious cats’ paws out of the stuff overnight. Incidentally, I do this for pretty much anything that would be annoying to saran wrap.
Then some finalized draining happened.
Then I made a simple syrup, which was WAY too sweet, but syrup is really fun to make. It’s just sugar and water that starts out all swirly and then ALL OF THE SUDDEN it transforms into a clear solution that will definitely burn you in a bad way because it’s super hot because [blah blah blah chemistry blah blah]. I could probably explain but I’ll save it for another time when I’m actually discussing a recipe.
Put the cherries in the syrup.
And finally, we have our latin square, realized & stylized.
I can’t even tell you which one had the dye, because it is so clearly unnecessary. So that was my single finding. But in a shallow white bowl, you can see the slight variations in color that resulted.
And those are some nice looking glasses too.
At this point, though I had tasted these a bit, I tried making a Shirley Temple. And that was when the saltiness really hit me. These may look pretty, but they are awful.
Failure. It’s the pits.