So, I've been inundated with cherries.
Nope, not complaining and not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I've been making *all* the cherry things. What I did want to write about is the cherry pit problem. As much as I love my cookery books, every once in a while, I want to shake things up a little so I look up a recipe here or there online.
Some of my go to sites include thekitchn.com and food in jars, when it comes to canning. I also make use of the various web resources offered by extension offices and am so grateful for them. So, big shout out there but that's not what I'm here to write about either.
It's the pits. Yep, cherry pits.
On a fair few pages, there are alarm bells and exclamations warning about the dangers of cherry pits. Cyanide people, cyanide (basically- I know there's more to it than that but that's the gist. Cherry pits=cyanide). I found this as I was contemplating some kind of cherry syrup or something. Don't cook the cherries with their pits because DANGER! never one to want to poison people, I diligently pitted 14 cups of cherries. 14. Cups. This is not a small undertaking, even with a decent pitter.
Pitting that many cherries offers a lot of time to think. And in that thinking time, I thought about the cherries I ate growing up. Canned, many, many many, jars of canned cherries. And the pit wars we used to have because my mother didn't pit cherries - ever.
Tangent: you can imagine the pit wars. Three kids storing cherry pits in their cheeks as they devour sugary, juicy canned cherries. They store up as many pits as they can (swallowing a fair few in the process) and when their cheeks could hold no more, they turn their mouth into something resembling a machine gun and gun down their siblings... with pit. Gross but also awesome.
Back to the pits.
So when I considered pits in the context of the comments (even the tiniest exposure could kill you or make you sick), in the context of my childhood (granted, some people said it's find to swallow them because whole, there's no issue but if they're broken open, you're in trouble), and in the context of the canning I've done in the last decade (many missed pits that ended up broken by the food processor or immersion blender), I started wondering what the risk was really.
Now, I'm not one of those "I have been canning green beans for years without pressure canning and nothing's ever happened so..." types. I'm a researcher, I understand probability. So I researched.
The first thing I found was that many people had blog posts and opinions about the risk of cherry pits but not a lot of actual science about pits being a risk. So, I turned to my favourite canning resource -the National Center (it's hard not to spell that Centre) for Home Food Preservation. I love this organization and they are the peeps in the know.
So, the first recipe I looked up was this one:
It actually says "do not pit". Interesting.
I thought I would look further and see if there was a single warning about pits on their site. While I didn't conduct an exhaustive search, I saw enough to reassure me that the authorities see no risk whether the pits are whole or happen to get broken. There's no "if you have a piece of a pit in your jam, get it out right away" and/or "this jam is now contaminated". And they absolutely would warn you if that was the case.
Now, I am not a food scientist, nor am I a domestic science expert and always suggest that people do their own research. I'm also grateful that people are trying to keep each other safe - that's not a bad thing. I'm just pedantic and don't like misinformation flying around. So, if you love cherries and you don't love research as much as I do, you can go to one of these sites:
and follow the directions of the experts. But for the love of Pete, do not let a fear of pits stop you from this kind of deliciousness!
I'm a 40-something writer and smallholder living in the wilds of BC with my family, our small herd of Nigerian Dwarf Goats, chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats.