Your Burning Questions

How to Use Stone Fruit Pits

By • July 12, 2014 • 14 Comments

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: When it comes to stone fruit, it's what's on the inside that counts. 

Stone Fruit Pits

Around mid-July, we begin to eagerly anticipate the return of apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines for making pies, crumbles, even breakfast tartines. After they're carefully halved and pitted, we end up with two piles -- one of sweet, succulent fruit and the other of hard pits to be tossed out. 

But are we wasting a valuable part of the fruit? Community member Diane P turned to the Hotline with this very question, looking for unique ways to use the pits of cherries, apricots, and other late summer jewels. 

Syrups

  • Noyaux, the kernels found in the pits of stone fruits, give off a pleasant bitter flavor similar to almond extract. Strawberrygirl follows the lead of Coppa's Jamie Bissonnette and recommends using the kernels to flavor vinegarssyrups, and liquors. To remove the kernel from the pit, cover the pit with a tea towel, and crush the hard shell with a hammer (or meat tenderizer) to access the kernel. 
  • Pastry chef Shuna Lydon has been using stone pits and kernels for 20 years, and makes sure to allay any lingering safety concerns: "The internal almond-looking kernel inside all stone fruit pits is not poisonous unless you plan on eating one ton of them." She incorporates apricot kernels into her apricot jam -- "They offer great texture, aroma, and flavor to an already exquisite preparation" -- and adds that stone fruit kernels can be used in a variety of household activities such as making soap. MsKristyGardner points out that they can even be added to potpourri.

Sour Cherry Almond Frozen Yogurt

More: While you're at it, prepare a batch of lavender and vanilla extracts.

  • Even if you can't find a culinary use that suits your needs, keep the pits out of the trash by composting or planting them, as Garee and ChefJune recommend. 

Photos by James Ransom

How do you use your pits? Join in the conversation over on the Hotline, or share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Tags: your burning questions, hotline, stone fruit, pits, how-to & diy

Comments (14)

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3 days ago Pratsina Glitsa

I add a few damson kernels to the mix when making damson gin or vodka and almonds to the sloe gin mix. Improves the flavour no end. I think I will experiment with others. Greengages (Reine Claudes) or mirabelle plums appeal.

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5 days ago phip

In Italy some cake recipes call for Mandorle Amare. This would literally translate as bitter almonds. Does anybody have any idea what these are? I think they are some sort of plum pit that contain quite a lot of cyanide and therefor must be used with caution. However the flavor they impart is delicious. I suspect they are unavailable in the USA. I once had an Almond Olive Oil Cake in Northern Lazio that I shall never forget. Got a recipe for anything like that???

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5 days ago MJprovence

I take almond pits, boil them to clean them, let them dry in the sun and they make wonderful pie weights... check it out at the end of my blog on all things apricot. http://www.maryjamesenprovence...

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6 days ago phip

Do pits contain pectin?

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6 days ago Marie

When canning peaches I was taught to always add a pit to each jar it preserves the color

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12 days ago Tim

Just finished harvesting an acre of Blenheim apricots. Wish iAd read this before making fresh chutney. May have to try this with the upcoming Green Gage and Damsen plums.

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6 days ago phip

I wish i had even a quarter or an eighth or a sixteenth of an acre of Blenheims.
You lucky guy.

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12 days ago Wendy S

I have an old hand-written cookbook of my mothers which contains a recipe for "Peach Seed Jelly". Most of these recipes came from her grandmother, so it's most likely from the early 1900s. This is the recipe in total:
Boil seeds from a bushel of peaches until the juice is pink, about one hour. There should be 5 cups of liquid. Add water if necessary. Add 5 cups of sugar and 1 package of powdered pectin.
I've always wanted to try this, but first I have to use that bushel of peaches!

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12 days ago karmaya

darn - i just made a batch of plum chutney yesterday - those little almondy bits would have been a nice addition.

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12 days ago Alice Royal

I had no idea they could be so useful! I won't just be throwing my pits away next time! Interesting article - I'm sure many people aren't aware of their uses!

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12 days ago Mary

Clean and dry any type of pits, then use them for blind baking pastry shells.

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12 days ago Shayne McCauley

I read a mystery once where ground peach pits were the poison.

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13 days ago Mark Evangelisto

Don't cherry, apricot and peach pits contain a form of cyanide?

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12 days ago butterandbooze

It's the same with almonds. Unless you eat a truck load of them, you'll be okay!