Pit cherries and soak overnight in a brine made of salt, alum and a quart of water. The next day, wash cherries until the salt taste is gone. Bring three cups water, sugar and food coloring to a boil. Add the cherries, remove from heat, and let stand 24 hours. The next day, bring the cherries and syrup just to a boil, adding the almond extract and lemon juice. The two optional ingredients may be added at this point. Pack the hot cherries and syrup in small, sterilized jars and seal.