Are cherry pits poisonous?

This summer my three year old has discovered a love for cherries.  On one hand, this is great-a love for a fresh fruit loaded with antioxidants-but a small problem has come up.  He wants to eat the ENTIRE cherry. At first I was not worried.   How can something so healthy be bad for you?  But after my husband freaked out when he found out that the pits were going down with the fruit I decided to put an end to the debate on the dangers of cherry pits with a simple Google search. I could not believe my eyes at the result. He was right! Cherry pits contain small amounts of cyanide compounds. I immediately felt like a negligant Mom letting him eat the pits. Since we had so many cherries in the house, I decided to try to made this Apricot Cherry Upside Down Cake to see if he liked the cooked fruit (without the pits this time!). This recipe fits my requirements for baking with kids: easy and yummy!

For the topping:
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped nuts
7 fresh cherries, halved and pitted
7 fresh apricots, halved and pitted

For the cake:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk

Step 1: Prepare the topping. Melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar and still until bubbling around 2 minutes. Pour hot mixture into cake pan and evenly cover the bottom. Sprinkle with the nuts.

Step 2: Add the fruit to the topping. Your fruit should be washed and halved. Carefully remove the pits. Place a cherry half in each apricot half as shown below. Then place the apricot half cut side down on the prepared topping.

Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients together. Meaning: flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Step 4: Beat the butter until light and creamy. Mix in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add 1/3 dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Mix in 1/3 of the milk. Continue adding the dry ingredients and milk until finished. Spoon the batter over the fruit. Be careful to not move the fruit.

Step 5: Bake in oven around 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn over onto serving plate. To facilitate the cake coming out of the pan run a sharp knife around the edge.

Enjoy your upside down cake with friends like we did. The ironic thing is that after the cake was done my assistant decided that he wanted more uncooked cherries. I had to come with a plan B to deal with the pits. I can him four cherries at a time and if he wanted more he had to bring four pits back to me! As you can see from the image below the cake was enjoyed by everyone else!

Do you have a cherry recipe to share with us? Look how Aldebarina on Qwertyfood used hers.


  • Marzena
    September 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I had no idea pits were poisonous either, and I don’t know how many pits I’ve even in my lifetime.
    The recipe looks great-will have to try it. Thanks for sharing.

    • FunLab
      September 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Marzena
      An adult would have to eat a lot of pits to be poisoned. Little bodies are more sensitive!!! I am not all that concerned. My Mom says that my brother swallowed a couple hundred one summer that cherries were really yummy when he was small!


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