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« When Life Hands You Cherry Stones, | Main | Cherry Pit/ Noyaux Ice Cream. & More Notes on Homemade Ice Cream »

22 May 2008


Thanks for the follow-up! I'm not one to fear food: I ate sushi when I was pregnant and I regularly pick day-old bread out of neighborhood dumpsters, so bring on the controversial fruit pits! I am not afraid!

It's an interesting topic though. I know there are cyanide compounds in other foods too - cassava leaves and, potatoes when they get green right? I wonder if there's a book on the topic.

Cherry pits: Delectable! Yes, there may be the possibility of consuming a small amount of cyanide if improperly handled. Worth it, I say!
Honestly, I think the highly plasticised wrap almost everything in commercial kitchens gets wrapped in is way worse for you. And not as tasty.

Really interesting post. Lots of ideas to use! I have always eaten the entire apple, although on some apples the tiny portion near the stem can have mold on it - and its sometimes hard to wash off. So sometimes I cut out as small a piece as possible from it.

I am so craving apricot jam on some good bread right now.

Eaten gradually, you can build up an immunity to the arsenic found in apple pits. It's how the murdered in Dorothy L. Sayers' murder mystery, "Strong Medicine" killed his victim.

The murderer prepared a tableside sweet crepe for his victim -- cousin, I think -- and then dumped in a load of arsenic mixed with sugar. They both ate the crepe but only the victim died, which confounded Lord Peter Whimsy, gentleman detective.

Something that you do glean from the novel -- beyond learning how to kill someone -- is that the carefully measured ingestion of arsenic in order to build an immunity also gives you very clear skin.


This is one of the best comments ever! Informative and funny. Not that I'd expect anything less from you. Thank you so very much. Hopefully everyone here appreciates you as much as I do. ~ Shuna

Also, thank you for helping me realize that almonds are actually a stone fruit!

Felix, in a land far far away, a long, long time ago, apples, roses, and bitter almond trees were all related. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that an almond is a tone fruit, but the connection is there, like cousins many times removed. ~ Shuna

Thanks for clarifying this for us Shuna... I found that email in my inbox sort of creepy anyway... no explaination, nothing. Just said "don't eat cherry stones!" or something like that. I would love to see a method for mashing them and all that too if you don't mind since I have never seen it done. This is intriguing to me.

Aran... Look at the photo with the hammer in the first post. Really it's all about smashing them really hard and breaking apart the kernels within the stones so they infuse better. ~ Shuna

And I have to agree with what Kevin said about plastic wrap and other things... people feeding McDonalds chicken nuggets to their kids but worried about cherry pits?? WTF??

So glad you took the time to write this follow up post. Now I'm not only hungry but a tad bit more enlightened. THANK YOU!


Great post(s), as always. I have never had cherry pit ice cream but, being the food chemist that I am, you better believe I'm going to make some SOON... it sounds heavenly!

Oops. I got my murder mystery poisons confused -- apple pips have cyanide in them, not arsenic.

Hmmm, very interesting. I work with real cyanide on a monthly basis, so I think I can handle a few cherry pits! I think I might be having all manner of stone fruits coming my way soon, so I'll be hoping to make lots of jams, jellies and chutneys...

My mother made the best apricot jams with the pits and our best memories was to try to get one with every spoons. I get the same type of emails when I use Tonka Beans...if they knew what exactly goes in the food they reheat in plastic, they would change their tune.
Bake on dear Shuna, bake on....

Shuna, if you should roast the apricot pits to render the noyaux 'safe' should the cherry noyaux also be roasted?

Kelsey, I am imagining that this is so, yes. Although I will say that I have never done it before recently and when i did, the flavour of the noyaux changed into something more roasted. ~ Shuna

About the roasting--does heat denature the molecule somehow? If you're infusing them in milk, there's a fair amount of heat involved, though not necessarily as much as when roasting.

Steve G, I have never roasted them, but it says so in order to eliminate the prussic acid - cyanide structure. I figure I give you all the information and the rest is up to you... ~ Shuna

My while camping this weekend with my grandchildren my five year old asked me a question that I could not answer. I have looked high and low on the web but have not been able to find an answer for her. Your sight at least discusses some issues related to her question but not what she wants to know.

What is a cherry pit made of?

Hello James & Daughter. I think for a real explanation you will need to ask a botanist or someone like this. In some ways the substance fruit pits and stones are made of is like wood, but that is more like an intuitive guess... ~ Shuna

I learned about cyanide effect that can be tamed by roasting. However, I am interested to know if it is ok to give raw cherry pits, peach or appricot pit to chipmunks or squirrels in our back yard (NOT to kill.)

Hello Reiko,
My feeling about animals is this: they have been eating plants and seeds and nuts long before humans sat in parks and fed them snacks. My own dogs will not eat fruit unless it's ripe and most animals will not eat poison unless they are trying to eject something that went down earlier.

As for humans-- I have been eating stone fruit kernels UNROASTED for decades, but I cannot recommend that you do this as well, given the information laid out here. ~ Shuna

I make wooden spoons out of cherry wood. People talk about toxic cyanide in cherry tree sap, wilted leaves and pits and ocasionaly advise not using cherry wood for utensils. I have read that wilted cherry leaves will poison horses but that once the leaves are dry, they are nolonger a threat.
I think the cianide is in the moisture in the sap, wilted leaves, and pits but not in dry cherry wood so it is safe to use for cooking utensils; and I do. I would love your thoughts.

as long as you don't smoke anything out of your cherry spoons, there aren't any harmful effects of the cherry wood. however, the cherry wood probably still retains some of the toxins originally found in the tree so i personally would not eat using a cherry spoon.

I have been eating apple seeds, the core of cherry pits, the core of almond pits... and virtually every other pitted fruit since I was a child. I love the taste... and have never noticed any effect, whatsoever, on my body. I am an athletic, healthy 58 year old male. I play baseball and basketall with men half my age and less. Perhaps my body is accustomed to their ingestion or perhaps the fact that I am always physically active is the key.

I am making a spoon out of peach wood.Would it be ok to eat with it.Is it Poisonous?

If there was any truth to the notion that the seeds of such fruits as apples, apricots and peaches are poisonous, then I should be long dead. I have been eating fruit seeds for fourty years. And rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.

I had some cherries that were not too sweet so I put them in a powerful blender and made them into juice I mixed them with watermellon, and blackberries done the same way. I drank the mixture it was delicious. but I did have a slightly upset stomach. I then thought about the fact that cherry stems could cause swelling. I was only slightly concerned. but I'm keeping an eye on myself.
What do you think?

I am surprised there was controversy on the topic. We use apricots in our curries and one of the fun parts of eating the curry aside from the fabulous flavor is to crack the kernel to get at the apricot nut which is indeed almondy in flavor... I came here through your cherry pit ice cream and I am so happy to have found it.. we eat quite a bit of cherries and it's a joy to find a way to use the whole fruit!!!!!

You mentioned in passing almond extract: "Apricot kernels is what almond extract is made of." Google brought me to this URL because I was searching for a recipe for almond extract. All I found elsewhere was to put blanched almonds in vodka. Is that wrong?

Thank you!

Hello KateDM, blanched almonds have almost no inherent flavor. If you can get ahold of apricot kernels or 'mahleb' you may be able to crush them and add this to vodka. Good luck! ~ Shuna


I made a beetroot and seed cake using plum seed oil last weekend which has a strong almond aroma (benzaldehyde to sceince geek like myself) without a overpowering almond taste.

Everyone who tried it was convinced the beetroot was cherry. It is interesting how aromas can change your taste expectations/perceptions.

Will be using this ingredient in my baking again.

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