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Taste Test: Maraschino cherries

Whether soaked in a bar drink, marinated on a barbecue skewer or mounted on top of a decadent dessert, maraschino cherries add a nice touch to a variety of recipes. The sweet cherries soaked in colored sugar syrup are sold under many brand names. Taster's Choice tried five varieties and found that the flavor didn't change much with the packaging. However, the judges said they would prefer stemmed cherries for drinks or recipes where presentation is key.

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Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent <b



Product/Score (out of 100) CherryMan 66 Publix 64 Great Value 61
How'd it look? Bright red, glossy, stemless. Irregular shaped, smashed and puckered. Stemmed "and a little dehydrated." Anemic.
Judges' comments Judges said their top choice cherries were moist and flavorful. They had a distinct cherry flavor with a good sweet/tart balance. Judges said they were a bit soft to hold up on a barbecue skewer. One judge said he would save the juice from the CherryMan cherries to use in a Shirley Temple. Another panelist said she would chop them up for a recipe. Judges detected chemicals in the flavor, comparing the taste to Luden's cough drops. They also were a bit soggy, but strongly sweet. A couple of panelists said they liked the flavor of the Publix brand and appreciated that the cherries didn't have a bad aftertaste. "Crispy" was how panelists described these cherries. They liked the "assertive" cherry flavor and the stems. The bold color and chewy texture also would make the Wal-Mart brand good on an ice cream sundae, they said.
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. Two of the four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information $1.89 for a 10-ounce jar at Sweetbay. $1.09 for a 6-ounce jar. $1.44 for a 10-ounce jar at Wal-Mart.
Also sampled: Hannaford ($2.09 for a 10-ounce jar at Sweetbay, 51 points) and Sure Fine ($1.99 for a 10-ounce jar at Price Busters, 58 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste Test: Maraschino cherries 05/12/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 4:30am]
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