I hate waste. And, let’s be honest, whenever you take fresh produce and prepare it in some way, there is waste.
The peels. The tops The pits of cherries–well hang on a sec, I’m getting to it!
Sure, you can always toss that stuff in your compost pile. (Learn more about composting here.)
But what if you didn’t have to?
You can use apple peels to make apple cider vinegar. You can dry the tops of strawberries and use them to make tea.
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And you can actually take all those cherry pits and boil them into a delicious, slightly nutty syrup that is fabulous on pancakes and over oatmeal, stirred into milk (for a delightful sweet treat that is strongly reminiscent of Strawberry Quik… but without all the added ick), or into whiskey.
Um. Because whiskey.
Wait. Aren’t cherry pits, kind of, poison?
Yes. Sort of. But not really.
Technically the noyaux–the little kernels found in the pits of stone fruit (like cherries, peaches, plums, and apricots) have an enzyme in them which is the precursor to cyanide.
In order to poison yourself, though, you would need to get the noyaux out of the cherry pit–it doesn’t want to come; cherry pits are designed to pass straight through the digestive tracts of most of the things that eat them. And you would have to eat quite a few of them.
So I would absolutely not recommend grinding up cherry pits to use in place of nuts on your favorite sundae. But we’re not going to do that, so it should be fine.
Clever and dedicated foodies also know that the noyaux, once smashed out of the pit (usually by means of a hammer) and safely roasted, can be used to add a sort of bitter almond flavor to all sorts of goodies.
Yeah. I’m sure it’s delicious… but what a pain in the neck! I hate the idea of wasting mounds of cherry pits… but I’m also pretty lazy.
Fortunately, making cherry pit syrup takes almost no effort at all!
We’re not going to smash cherry pits. We’re not going to poison ourselves. We’re going to boil the pits–whole–and therefore capture all the little bits of cherry clinging to the pits and use all the good cherry juice that would otherwise be pooling on our kitchen counter.
My grout will never be white again. Ever.
Tip: Pit your cherries over a bowl, and at least some of the mess will be not on the counter!
How to Make Cherry Pit Syrup
This is so easy it seems almost silly to go to the trouble of writing it out. I got my inspiration from the elderberry syrup recipe that I use (by the way, if you don’t know about elderberry syrup you should find out–its great for colds and even allergies!) and simplified it. If such a thing is even possible.
Take approximately 2 cups of cherry pits and associated juices. Place them in a pan. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer with the lid off for about 4o minutes. Let it cool a bit and then strain out the pits. Let it continue to cool until it reaches room temperature. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of raw honey.
Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for a couple of months.
I told you it was easy!
The syrup is on the runny side, but delicious. Mostly cherry with just a hint of a nutty flavor.
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So… where do I get all those cherry pits?
From preparing cherries for preserving, of course!
Preserving cherries is easy. All of these methods work for both sweet and sour cherries… though I have to admit, with the exception of cherries that are going to be turned into cherry pie, I prefer the sweet ones!
It doesn’t get any easier. All you have to do is pit the cherries, place them in a single layer on cookie sheet, and stick them in the freezer. After a couple of hours… or days… whatever… move the frozen cherries into one quart freezer bags for easy storage. The point of freezing them on cookie sheet first, is so that they freeze individually. It makes it easy to grab out a handful or so when you want to use them.
I use frozen cherries, still frozen, in morning smoothies. Or thaw them for snacks or to put on oatmeal. They can also be chopped up and added to Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream.
Dehydrating cherries is the second easiest way to preserve cherries. Pit the cherries, chop them into halves or quarters and place them in a single layer on your dehydrator trays. This is the dehydrator I have. Once they are dried, simply store them in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
Dehydrated cherries are delicious! I mix them with nuts (and sometimes chocolate chunks) for a quick on-the-go snack. I put them in homemade granola, and they are an excellent addition to chocolate chip cookies.
Yes, you can! (Sorry, this particular pun just never gets old.)
Canning cherries is slightly more complicated than either freezing or dehydrating, but still very easy! It is safe to can cherries in a waterbath canner, but I strongly recommend following an approved recipe. This is the most updated version of the canning book I use and it should tell you all you need to know.
Canned cherries are delightful over ice cream. And, of course, baked into pies.
You can freeze jam, but I always can it–and again, it is safe to can jam in a waterbath canner. I prefer to use Pomona’s Pectin when I make jam.
Pour Alcohol over Cherries
Actually I sort of lied when I said it doesn’t get any easier than freezing cherries. This is easier–you don’t even have to pit the cherries. (You know, unless you want to make cherry pit syrup, or possibly eat so many in one sitting that you get tipsy.) But if you were planning to send the preserved cherries as part of your kids’ school lunches and not get arrested, this is not the way to do it!
For adults, though, these cherries are fabulous right out of the jar or over ice cream. And you have delightful cherry-flavored whiskey, too! Learn about Preserving Cherries with Whiskey in this post.
So that’s it.
Five Easy Ways to Preserve Cherries, plus How to Make Cherry Pit Syrup!
What’s your favorite method of preserving cherries? Have you ever made cherry pit syrup?
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