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Jul 10, 2008 06:50 PM

Cherry clafouti - to pit or not to pit?

So, I've heard a rumour that the flavour of cherries is enhanced by cooking them with the pits. True? Not so much? I suppose mostly I'm wondering if the improvement is big enough to compensate for the relative annoyance of having to watch out for pits as you eat.


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  1. That's what Alton claimed on the recent 'dutch oven' episode (but didn't do himself). Apparently leaving the pits in is common in traditional French preparation of this dish. So far I've only used frozen fruit for this dish, so I can't say anything based on experience. Maybe it depends on the type of cheery.

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      The black cherries traditionally used for clafoutis (singular and plural are spelled with a terminal s, though it's not pronounced) in the Limousin, its native region, are smaller and have a much lower fruit to pit ratio than, say, bing cherries, so pitting beforehand is a lot of work. It also increases the possibility of leaked juice making the clafoutis soggy.

      I find that bing and other common North American varieties aren't particularly juicy, so pitting is less risky. To be on the safe side, you can roast the pitted cherries (tossed with kirsch if you like) for 5-10 minutes before placing them in the baking dish. Save any expressed juices for flavouring whipped cream or vinegar. That said, I almost never pit. Clafoutis is such a quick and homey dessert and pitting both doubles the prep time and reduces the homey quotient. Can't say I've noticed a huge difference in flavour between pitted and unpitted, though, not with bings at least.

      1. re: carswell

        wow - thanks for the excellent answer
        I have a quart of sour cherries . . .

    2. I never pit and prefer it that way, but admit I have never done a blind taste test.

      1. The pits do impart some flavor, but I don't think it's worth the bother of eating around them. Some people worry about prussic acid in the seed, but you have to crack the kernal to get to that, so I don't think it's an issue here.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jlafler

          no, but cracking your teeth IS an issue. I'm an unabashed Francophile, but I don't care if they want to leave the pits in, I don't! (and, fwiw, I've never been served it with pits in in France, so I'm sure it's not a hard and fast rule).

        2. I follow the recipe from the Chez Panisse Fruits cookbook, and I never pit. This recipe calls for cooking the cherries in a pan with sugar and cinnamon and butter (how can you go wrong!!!) to cook them before covering them with the batter. This makes them into little swollen bombs of cherry flavour that explode in your mouth when you eat the clafouti. It is to die for! Pitting them would not allow the cherry juices to stay in the body of the cherry, and I think you'd lose that wonderful flavour explosion. So I never pit.

          1. Interesting discussion. Since I don't live in France, I think I'll pit my cherries. I just think most Americans would not like eating a dessert with cherry pits.

            1 Reply
            1. re: NYCkaren

              So I often have served cherry desserts with the pits, and my American friends never have an issue with it - I just warn them first.