This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
The wild cherry is a large North American forest tree, with a compact, pale-red or brownish-red wood. Wild cherry bark is met with in irregular fragments or slightly curved pieces, obtained from the branches and trunks of younger trees, one-twelfth of an inch thick, externally of a blackish-gray or green-brownish color, if deprived of the corky layer, of a greenish or light yellowish-brown color. Older bark is one-eighth inch and more in thickness, of rust-brown appearance. The bark is brittle and yields a pale reddish-brown powder. It has a very slight odor while dry, but when macerated in water it developes the odor of bitter almond; its taste is astringent, aromatic, and bitter, with the flavor of bitter almond. The bark was found to contain tannin, gallic acid, resin, starch and other common vegetable principles, and obtained by distillation a volatile oil containing hydrocyanic acid; this oil was found on further investigation by Proctor to agree in the main with the volatile oil of bitter almond. Wild cherry has tonic principles. The extract of wild cherry bark is prepared from it.
Infusions of wild cherry bark are often employed for preparing or flavoring syrups intended for carbonated beverages, but are a troublesome fluid to beverages. An extract is more practicable, and we append the method for its preparation as published by Mr. Robbins, which gives satisfactory results. The process, modified for the carbonator's purpose, is as follows:
Take one pound of wild cherry bark in No. 40 powder, moisten it with eight fluid ounces of water, and set aside for twenty-four hours; four ounces of sugar are then mixed with the damp powder, and the whole packed in a percolator and saturated with a mixture prepared in the proportion of one fluid ounce of alcohol to five fluid ounces of water, and allowed to macerate for forty-eight hours. Add enough of the mixture of alcohol and water to keep a stratum above the powder, and have the percolator tightly closed. After macerating, the percolation is allowed to proceed, adding the same mixture, alcohol and water, until the wild cherry bark is exhausted and sixteen fluid ounces of extract are obtained. Re-percolate if desired.
The fluid extract is of a deep brownish-red color, and when recently made has the bitter-almond odor in a marked degree, and possesses also the astringent and pleasantly bitter taste of the bark; the odor diminishes in the course of time, and finally disappears. This fluid extract yields with aqueous liquids clear mixtures.