Q: I am preparing to freeze sour cherries. Must I pit them before freezing or will the fruit be edible if I leave the pits in? I do not plan to bake with them. I plan to thaw a few at a time and eat them raw with the rest of my morning fruit, so I don’t mind eating around the pit in my mouth, as long as there is no health concern. I fear some weird interaction with the wood and the fruit in the freezer.
-- Sabrina Bobrow, Columbus, Ohio
A: Cherry pits and the pits of other fruits contain a compound, which, when ingested, can be converted into cyanide with the help of enzymes in our bodies. That’s why it is a dangerous practice to eat fruit pits.
Most pits will remain intact in our systems, protecting us from the poisoning, but broken ones could cause real illness, so you are wise to be concerned about cherry pits in general.
For your question, I consulted with Courtney King of King Orchards in Central Lake, Michigan, growers of Michigan’s famous tart cherries.
She explained that pitting cherries before freezing is a matter of convenience, not safety. There is no concern the pits could leach anything harmful into the fruit while frozen.
“Most people put (the cherries) in smoothies, pies or other things so (they) want them pitted. It is much more difficult to pit a frozen cherry than a fresh cherry,” King explained.
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