Can Cherry Pits Be Composted?

Of all the fruits on all the trees, stone fruit is my absolute favorite. Of those delectable fruits, cherries are my all-time jam. But when I get to the pits, they become far less enjoyable.

On occasion, a sudden bite down on cherry stones can be unpleasant and even crack a tooth. Before you swallow it with the sweet pulpy flesh, remember that they are cyanide-containing fruit pits and are highly toxic and poisonous if ingested in large quantities, especially by children.

The only option is to spit that pit out and then dispose of it. You could plant it and grow a new cherry tree either in your yard or in a neglected grassy area near your home. But if you want to just toss it and be done, then the choice becomes trash or compost pile.

Can cherry pits be composted? Let’s find out! 

What Are Cherry Pits?

Cherry pits are the seeds in the center of the fruit from a cherry tree. These pits are hard and house the germ that will grow into a new tree if given the right conditions. Stone fruits are usually spread by animals, and the small size of uncrushed cherry pits makes it easy for birds and mammals to carry them away.  As they snack on the delicious fruit, they carry the stone fruit pits far and add wild cherry trees to the landscape. 

Because pitted fruit is so hard, it can be a challenge to get it to break down in the compost pile, making it a headache for some home gardeners. The frustrating thing is that so many popular fruit varieties have these hard types of fruit pits. Although it may be difficult, the seeds of stone fruits can be composted, but just like other tricky compostable items added to the compost heap, it may take a bit of preparation. 

Can Cherry Pits Be Composted?

Pits of cherries can be composted, and over time the decomposition process will turn pitted fruit into ready compost. The exact amount of time this takes depends on a lot of conditions and environmental factors. In the best conditions, cherries can become finished compost contents in a little more than a month. In non-ideal situations, it could take several months to several years to fully break down in the compost pile. 

There are several steps you can take to increase the temperature for decomposition for consistent compost. Adding green materials, plenty of moisture, and turning the pile every couple of days will break down biodegradable materials in much less time.

The most important factor in heating up a compost pile is the right amount of organic matter piled high and in the right proportions. If you build a pile 3 feet by 3 feet, it can heat up to the right temperatures. 

Can Any Type of Fruit Seed be Composted?

Any type of plant matter can be composted and will break down into soil eventually. There are many different fruit seeds, and they all vary in how long they take to break down. Different seeds are also found in different temperature climates, and cooler conditions offer slower decomposition. Knowing how long each fruit seed takes to break down can help you plan how much to add to your compost each month. 

Seed NameComposting TimeMethod
Peach1 to 3 yearsSmash or soak
Apple2 to 3 monthsSpread out and mix well
Pomegranate 3 to 6 monthsDry out to avoid mold or germination
Plum1 to 3 yearsDry and smash or soak and grind
Apricots1 to 3 yearsDry and crush
Mangos1 to 3 yearsSmash to prevent germination
Avocados1 to 3 yearsSmash and soak
Olives6 months to 2 yearsSmash or grind

Cool Climate

Stone fruit trees in cool climates are apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and apricots. These trees can handle cooler temperatures and even frost but need more water to grow. These trees can grow tall and usually form canopy trees in and around orchards. Fruit peels and other common fruit seeds will break down under cool climate drupe trees faster than when there are higher temperatures and wetter weather.

Hot Climate

Trees in hot climates that produce hard-pitted fruits are pomegranates, mangos, avocados, and olives. These trees deal with arid conditions but struggle if temperatures drop. Since there is very little biomass and soil life in hot, dry climates, seeds dropped will take a long time to decompose. In hot, humid climates, the pits will disappear rapidly. 

How to Compost Cherry Pits?

If you are going to be composting a lot of cherry pits, you may want to make some preparations, so it is easier for your pile to break down. While it might seem like taking extra time to break down a cherry pit doesn’t make much sense, 10 minutes in the kitchen can save a year of soil microbe work. If you have the means, these preparation steps can make composting stone fruits even easier.

Soak and Pulverize

Putting pits in water can help soften the hard exterior and give microbes a better chance to slip in and consume it from the inside. Even just leaving the seeds in water overnight is enough to weaken the structure and aid in decomposition. If you want even faster results, you can put the water and soaked pits in a food processor and pulverize it, then dump the slurry all at once. 

Dry and Crush

If you want to take another route, you can dry the pits in an oven on low heat or in the sun and allow them to become brittle. Once they are dry,b crush them or grind them in a coffee grinder or other blender. This will speed up the natural decomposition process. You can sprinkle the powder in potted plants as well since it will break down much faster.

Crack and Compost

Simply cracking open the hard exterior with a hammer or other blunt object is enough to let decomposition take place inside the seed. Once soil microbes have gotten past the exterior shell, they can work on the rich material inside and cause the seed to die and rot faster. Extra moisture can also help out in decomposition.

Compost Whole

If you think it’s the compost’s job to do the work, then tossing cherry pits in whole is okay too. If you will be adding many at once, try to spread them out to avoid clumps, mold, and anaerobic conditions. Add plenty of carbon and nitrogen to your pits to increase bacterial activity and get your pile hot. Turn the pile and add moisture to break down whole cherry pits in no time.