Bittersweet nectar of marasca cherry: Maraschino
Today we talk again about liqueurs and spirits! Together with Grappa of Veneto we find another alcoholic delicacy that make part of the Atlas of the traditional agricultural products of Veneto. We are talking about Maraschino, an excellent structured and sweet liqueur pretty spread in the provinces of Padua and Venice, for a long period of time.
How is Maraschino made?
This liqueur with a sweet taste, with light bitter notes, its colour is transparent with an alcoholic volume around 32° and a strong perfume of marasca cherry, the main ingredient that give the name Maraschino, fruits of small size and lightly bitter.
From marasca cherry of Zara to the distillery of Veneto
Sipping a Maraschino at the end of a meal, the bittersweet taste of the marasca cherry that is easy recognizable from the first sip. They are pulpy and juicy fruit pretty spread in the coast of Dalmatia and the hinterland of Veneto.
The history tells that this liqueur has its origins in the near Dalmatia, when it still was a territory of Serenissima; the most ancient recipes come from an ancient Dominican monastery of Zara that was founded in the far XVI century.
The difficult situation of the Croatian coast pushed, in the recent centuries, the entrepreneurs of Zara to move the production of this sweet nectar in Italy. Thus the Booth becomes the great producer and consumer of Maraschino!
In the XX century, Veneto stood and stands still out for its important distillery that produce and export the famous Maraschino all over the world. This liqueur, moreover, have been recently selected as a typical product of the region.
The recipe of Maraschino
The maceration of the best fruits…
All start from the collection of the best cherries of Veneto, the traditional recipe wants black cherries or marasca cherries, not the usual cherries (even if the Igp of Marostica is exceptional) picked in the middle of their ripening and sweetness, between the months of June and July.
Once picked and cleaned, the stalks and leaves are removed and the fruits selected, without eventual rotten fruits. Marasca cherries are subjected to a light pressure in order to divide the pulp from the core and put into infusion in a hydro alcoholic mix that foresees water and alcohol, inside wooden barrel or tanks that give the traditional flavour of this distillate.
Going on with the distillation
After a given period of maceration, the liquid is distilled with the traditional distiller that transform alcohol, first of all in steam, thanks to the heat released by a direct flame. Then it is condensed to the liquid status through a cooling hose. It is important to remove the ends of the distillation, similar to Grappa, as the master distiller teaches us.
The last pause before the bottling
The distillate, not sweetened yet, rests in container, possibly made of wood. This barrel ageing contributes, in fact, to the fruity and warm aroma of Maraschino. Finally, before the bottling is sweetened with sugar.
How to consume Maraschino?
It is great at the end of the meal or without ice or together with fruit mix and ice cream, so that the liqueur Fragolino. But it is also widely used in confectionery to give aromas to creams and desserts, in the dough of the biscuits or as syrup for sponge cake. It can be used also to prepare delicious cocktails and smashed drinks… decorate with a good dark cherry in syrup!