top of page

How To Benefit Your Fall Baking with Hollyleaf Cherry Kernels

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


Hollyleaf Cherry

The Hollyleaf Cherry, Prunus ilicifolia ilicifolia, is an evergreen tree that gets up to 30 feet tall and is found throughout the coastal foothills and mountains of California up to 5000 feet in elevation. It blossoms in late winter and spring and produces dark red cherries from late summer until early fall.

Hollyleaf Cherry Distribution & use

Hollyleaf Cherry, whose distribution is from Northern California to Baja California and east to the Mojave Desert, can be used in a number of ways. The fruits can be eaten fresh off the plant, and the stones can be cracked and the kernels extracted. The bark can be made into a tea and used to treat colds and steam from leaves can be inhaled to relieve the flu or made into a decoction and used as a wash for headaches. 

Hollyleaf Cherry Kernel Preparation

The Chumash Indians called the hollyleaf cherry, 'axtayuxaš, and regarded the kernels as an important food staple, much like acorns.

Hollyleaf Cherry Kernels

Hollyleaf Cherry Pits

It's important to properly prepare the kernels to avoid cyanide toxicity:

  1. Remove fruit from pits and set aside

  2. Wash pits under running water and wipe dry to remove any excess fruit

  3. When pits are dry, add them a few at a time to a heavy duty stone molcajete, or something similar to crack open the pits

  4. Using your fingernails, pull apart the pits to reveal the kernel inside and set the kernels into a separate bowl

  5. After all kernels have been removed, place the kernels back into the mocajete and grind them down

  6. Grinding before boiling allows for the hydrocyanic acids to be extracted more efficiently

Separating the pit from the kernel

  1. Once all the kernels are ground down to a pulp, place them in a pot of water and bring it to a boil

  2. Allow the kernels to boil for 15 minutes, you'll notice a sweet candy cherry scent fill the room during the boiling process

  3. After 15 minutes remove the mashed kernels and run them under cool water with a strainer

  4. Place the kernels back into a pot of clean water and bring to a boil for another 15 minutes

  5. Taste to make sure the kernels are no longer bitter, then remove from the water with the strainer and place in a separate dish

  6. Now you have the option to make a nice cherry kernel porridge or dehydrate into a flour for your favorite baked dishes.

Let us know if you have tried Hollyleaf Cherry and what some of your favorite dishes are to make.




bottom of page