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What is Cherry Extract?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cherry extract is a fruit extract made by soaking cherries in alcohol to draw out their flavor. The extract has a strong cherry aroma and flavor, and it can be used in a variety of ways. Various versions are also designed as dietary supplements, usually in the form of capsules which are designed to be taken with other vitamins, extracts, and minerals.

Both natural and artificial cherry extract are available. The artificial product is made with flavor compounds which are designed to resemble cherries, and it can have a syrupy or sweet flavor. Natural versions are made with real cherries, and they may be sweet or slightly sour, depending on which types of cherries are used to make the extract. In either case, whole fruit is used so that the flavors in the pits will also seep into the extract; people can also make cherry extract at home by covering cherries in a neutral alcohol like vodka and allowing them to soak for several weeks before straining the mixture.

Baking is the one of the most common applications for cherry extract. This flavoring can be added to cakes, pies, muffins, cookies, and so forth, and it may also be used to make cherry icing. It can also be added to ice cream, milkshakes, and mixed drinks, and some savory recipes call for it as well. The slightly sweet, slightly tart quality of good cherry extract can complement a number of dishes, including roasts. People can also use it to flavor medications to make them more palatable

Like other fruit extracts, the alcohol in cherry extract burns off very quickly, leaving the flavor behind. Non-alcoholic versions are available for people who wish to avoid using alcohol products for religious or dietary reasons. These versions are typically artificial, and cooks may want to experiment with several brands to find the right flavor. If an extract is too sweet, it can be given a more tart note with fresh lemon or lime juice.

In terms of dietary supplementation, cherry extract is consumed for the antioxidants and other compounds present in cherries. These extracts are made with the goal of concentrating the nutritional benefits of cherries, rather than the flavor, and they tend to be rather lacking in excitement, flavorwise.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Denha — On Jul 17, 2011

@gravois- I agree, there is a big difference between regular cherry cola and the kind you can still sometimes get in a more old-fashioned restaurant that adds the cherry right then and there. It is so much richer and more delicious that way. I imagine it must be more expensive, of course, which is probably why it is so hard to find places that still do it that way.

By gravois — On Jul 17, 2011

I love to add a little bit of cherry extract to soda whether it be cola, lemon lime soda or even Mountain Dew. We are probably all familiar with cherry soda but there is something so much better about it when you make it yourself. The cherry extract that you buy in the store is a lot better than whatever the stuff is that they mix into soda. Try some yourself and you will learn to love your favorite soda all over again.

By Perdido — On Jul 17, 2011

I can't stand the taste of cherry flavored candy or pure cherry extract because it reminds me of that awful tasting cough syrup from my youth. The cough drops come to mind as well, and they were very unpleasant to me. The taste of both was so bitter and made me sad.

However, I do love cherry extract when it is part of the greater good, such as in a pie or frosting. I guess the sugar in the frosting and the bread of the pie crust work to make cherry a positive experience totally removed from cough medicine.

By cloudel — On Jul 16, 2011

My brother-in-law had been having painful gout, and he started looking for a natural remedy for it. That's when he discovered black cherry extract.

This type of cherry extract prevents gout, or at least slows its onset. The lady at the health food store told him that the extract reduces the level of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is what crystallizes in the joints and causes pain. When black cherry extract reduces it, joint swelling decreases also.

He has taken it for a month now, and his pain has lessened a lot. I don’t know if it can totally prevent gout from recurring, but it’s worth a shot if it helps at all.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 15, 2011

I like to make cherry sandwich cookies around Christmas time using cherry extract and candied cherries. These cookies look very festive on a serving tray, and their bright flavor is something you wouldn’t expect at a party typically laden with rich foods.

The recipe for the dough is much like a butter cookie, but you add cherry extract and chopped red and green candied cherries. You can make cherry frosting to put in between two cookies, or you can leave that out and just eat them in single layers. The frosting is basically the same recipe for making vanilla frosting, but instead of vanilla extract you use cherry extract.

By wavy58 — On Jul 14, 2011

This article made me think of almond extract and how it tastes like cherries. Has anyone else ever noticed that?

I asked a baker friend of mine if she knew the reason for this, and she told me that there are two types of almonds. One is the kind we eat, and the other is bitter, toxic, and used to make almond extract.

The extract-making almond contains benzaldehyde, and this is what gives it its flavor. Benzaldehyde is also found in cherries, as well as apricots, peaches, and plums.

I have never tried the real cherry extract. In fact, until reading this article, I thought the only way to give something a cherry flavor was to use almond extract.

By myharley — On Jul 14, 2011

Tart cherry extract is very good for you, and the darker the cherry is, the more beneficial it can be. Not only are they good for arthritis symptoms, but also have been shown to help maintain a healthy heart.

They have a lot of different juices available today, and one of my favorites is a blend of black cherry concentrate and pomegranate juice. Both of these are full of antioxidants and having a satisfying sweet taste as well.

By SarahSon — On Jul 13, 2011

I love the taste of pure cherry extract and would choose that any day over the imitation extract. We had a cherry tree while growing up and I enjoyed picking the cherries for my Mom to make cherry pies. We never made our own extract, but I can still taste those cherries.

Not only is cherry extract used for baking, but there are several claims that it has helped with some medical conditions too. I know that some people will use cherry extract for gout to help control the pain.

I shouldn't be surprised by this when I read about how many vitamins are healthy ingredients are in cherry extract, I imagine that it could be beneficial for many things.

By popcorn — On Jul 13, 2011

Has anyone every tried taking a cherry extract supplement? Did you find it helped you or was it just another fad to try?

I have been reading a bit about cherry extract supplements and am curious if they really help with reducing the inflammation found in joints.

My mother suffers from pretty bad arthritis in her hands and some days are rather impossible for her to stand. I really worry about her comfort levels and am willing to buy some cherry extract supplements for her to take if they actually work. I admit I am always skeptical about things like this, but if it really works that would be fantastic.

By drtroubles — On Jul 12, 2011

If you are trying out a recipe that calls for cherry extract make sure you follow the directions very carefully. I made the mistake my first time when using cherry extract of adding way too much and it can be quite overpowering.

If you don't have a recipe and just want to make something cherry flavored such as your cake mix, I would suggest starting with about a teaspoon of cherry flavoring. You can try adding more of less with subsequent tries.

For myself I find a lot of baking with cherry extract to be very hit or miss. I love cherry though, so I don't mind having to try again and again to get things perfect.

By SZapper — On Jul 12, 2011

@Kaboom - I'm with you on the cherry flavored milkshakes. Delicious!

Reading this article has made me consider using cherry extract on a roast. I don't think I would have ever thought up such a thing on my own but it sounds kind of tasty. I think whenever I do try this I will serve some kind of cherry based desert at the end of the meal too!

By KaBoom — On Jul 11, 2011

I love to add a little bit of cherry extract to a bowl of vanilla ice cream or a vanilla milkshake. Yum!

I wish my mother would have considered flavoring medications with cherry extract when I was younger as the article recommends. She used to make me take all kind of unpalatable vitamins. I know it was for my own good but I would have been much happier with cherry flavor than vitamin flavor.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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