Whole Foods is not an exclusive seller of Luxardo maraschino cherries, which differ from regular maraschino cherries because the producer Luxardo marinates Marasca cherries in Marasca cherry liqueur, or Luxardo, named after the company's founder. Other producers merely soak Marasca cherries, or other cherry varieties, in a syrup for approximately one month.
Luxardo is based in Padua, Italy, where it produces Luxardo maraschino cherries. Its process for producing maraschino cherries reflects the traditional process, which the ban on alcohol during Prohibition rendered the sales of illegal in the United States. Ernest H. Wiegand, an Oregon-based professor, developed the modern process for making maraschino cherries.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Wiegand helped cherry farmers preserve cherries in a non-alcoholic way so that the farmers could remain competitive in the maraschino cherry market during the restrictions of Prohibition. The modern process entails soaking cherries in brine to remove their color and flavor, pitting the cherries, soaking them again in syrup and dipping them in artificial color.
Luxardo maraschino cherries contain no preservatives, no artificial color, and the Luxardo syrup contains no thickening agents. The tradition of soaking Marasca cherries in liqueurs arose from a previous European tradition of producing distilled spirits from the same cherry and then using the liqueur to preserve fresh Marasca cherries, which Europeans consumed like a sweet snack.
The 12.7-ounce jar of Luxardo Maraschino cherries retails on Williams-Sonoma for approximately $20, as of 2016.