This specially treated fruit can be made from any variety of cherry, though the royal ann is most often used. The cherries are pitted and then macerated in a flavored sugar syrup (usually almond flavor for red cherries, mint for green). At one time they were traditionally flavored with maraschino liqueur, though such an extravagance is now rare. The cherries are then dyed red or green. The federal government has now banned the use of the harmful dyes that were used until recently. Maraschino cherries can be purchased with or without stems. They're used as a garnish for desserts and cocktails, as well as in baked goods and fruit salads.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.