Fruit

How to Use Stone Fruit Pits

July 12, 2014

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!

20 Comments

Claudia |. June 17, 2015
You know when you have the mango pit with all that goodness still attached to it? I used it for Infused Water, and it gave me great results!
 
Theo June 16, 2015
WARNING! This article glosses over the danger of the cyanide in peach and apricot pits. Just a few can be fatal to a small child, and 7-10 can be fatal for an adult. There's a good reason for the "safety concerns". People end up in the emergency room or die each year from eating pits of these kinds of fruit. Trying one probably won't hurt you, but be aware of the danger.
 
ClaireHH July 20, 2016
I'd like to echo this warning and provide a source:<br /><br />"A study of the toxicity levels of peaches and apricots clearly shows that 13 to 15 raw peach pit kernels would get you into the lethal range for adults, Dr. Margaret Dietert said.<br /><br />For apricots, the toxicity varies widely in a tenfold range, depending on variety, she said. The wild apricot is highest, and some are quite low, but for a variety in the middle level of toxicity, about 17 to 20 kernels would get you into the lethal range. No one has survived eating more than 38.<br /><br />For children, around 15 percent of the adult level could be lethal, because they are extremely susceptible."<br /><br />Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/02/16/science/q-a-133693.html<br /><br />
 
Olivier C. June 16, 2015
Regarding Peaches noyaux, it is said in my culture that eating 7 of them is deadly.
 
Marina B. August 14, 2014
This summer, I went a little crazy with sour cherries -- I ended up buying about 25 pounds of them! I didn't want to waste the pits, so now I have a jar of pits sitting in vodka, and a jar sitting in white-wine vinegar. They smell amazing! In the middle of winter, I plan on making a big sour cherry pie with the frozen cherries. Some cherry pie recipes call for almond extract, so I plan on using the extract from the pits instead.
 
Pratsina G. July 23, 2014
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.
 
phip July 21, 2014
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???
 
MJprovence July 21, 2014
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.blogspot.fr/search/label/apricots<br />
 
phip July 20, 2014
Do pits contain pectin?
 
Marie July 20, 2014
When canning peaches I was taught to always add a pit to each jar it preserves the color
 
Tim July 14, 2014
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.
 
phip July 20, 2014
I wish i had even a quarter or an eighth or a sixteenth of an acre of Blenheims.<br />You lucky guy.<br />
 
Wendy S. July 14, 2014
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:<br />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.<br />I've always wanted to try this, but first I have to use that bushel of peaches!
 
karmaya July 14, 2014
darn - i just made a batch of plum chutney yesterday - those little almondy bits would have been a nice addition.
 
Alice R. July 14, 2014
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! <br />
 
Mary July 14, 2014
Clean and dry any type of pits, then use them for blind baking pastry shells.
 
Shayne M. July 13, 2014
I read a mystery once where ground peach pits were the poison.
 
Mark E. July 13, 2014
Don't cherry, apricot and peach pits contain a form of cyanide?
 
honeycombcreamery July 13, 2014
It's the same with almonds. Unless you eat a truck load of them, you'll be okay!
 
Theo June 16, 2015
That's misleading. A potentially lethal of sweet almonds is around 400 almonds for an adult, but only 13-15 raw peach pits can be lethal. Peach pits have a far higher dose of cyanide and are more dangerous (particularly for children).