Amygdalin is a cyanide compound found in the seeds of many fruits, including apples, cherries, apricots and peaches. Peach and apricot pits contain enough amygdalin to be life-threatening if consumed in quantity. However, they can be used for culinary purposes if the cyanide compounds are removed. In Europe, for example, the kernels often are processed into a less-costly substitute for almond paste in baking and confectionery. Pet owners might wish to remove the substance in order to feed the kernels to their birds or rodents.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Paring knive and/or peeler
- Nut cracker
- Baking tray
Peel the peaches, using a paring knife or peeler. Split them in half horizontally, following the indentation that occurs naturally on one side. Twist the halves to separate them, and remove the pits. Reserve the peaches for another use.
Preheat your oven to 163 to 177 degrees Celsius. Place the peach pits on a baking tray, taking care to distribute them evenly. Bake them for 10 minutes, then remove.
Crack the pits with a nutcracker, once they are cool enough to handle. Scatter the shelled kernels on the baking tray, and return them to the oven. Bake for an additional five minutes, then cool.
Use the kernels as a substitute for almonds in baking or cooking, or feed them to pets such as birds or rodents. Baking breaks down the amygdalin, creating an almond-like scent and rendering the nuts safe for consumption.
Store any unused kernels in an airtight container or bag. Keep them in a cool, dry place out of direct light. Use within three months for best quality.
Tips and warnings
- Wear gloves to peel and halve the peaches, as they are juicy and messy. It is best to peel them over a bowl, which will preserve the juices.
- If you live in a snowy climate, smash the empty pits with a hammer and save them for winter. Use them for traction on icy sidewalks, instead of sand or salt.
- Peach and apricot pits contain amygdalin in varying concentrations. As few as 10 kernels may deliver a life-threatening quantity of cyanide, so use all necessary precautions to avoid accidental consumption while raw, especially by children.
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