This question comes in from reader Nick:
You said cherry pits taste like almonds. Why is that?
Oh, I was hoping somebody would ask that, though I’m pretty sure I would have found a way to talk about this subject anyway. The reason cherry pits taste like almonds is that they’re part of the same family of fruits known as drupes, and more than that of the same genus of plants, that being the genus prunus. Drupes are known for their (usually) fleshy outer coverings, which are known as exocarps, and their hard, stone-like pits which are called endocarps. Other famous prunus drupes include apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums.
The interesting thing about these drupes is that their pits have very similar flavors. Almonds are actually a prunus drupe pit, the only such pit we eat (there are good reasons for that, but more on that later) and they taste like, well, almonds. However cherry pits tastes like almonds, and so do peach pits. Apricot pits taste so much like almonds that they’re used to make the almond liqueur Amaretto, which as you may recall is featured in my clafoutis recipe below. Kinda weird, isn’t it, that the flavor we know as “almond” is actually the flavor of prunus drupe pits? Speaking for myself, I dig it, which is why I went out of my way to heighten the effect of the cherry pits with an extra splash of prunus drupe pit-flavorerd liqueur.