From: Susan 17/02/2000 16:01:00
Subject: Poison post id: 39492
Is it true that the nut inside Peaches, Nectarines etc is highly poisonous?

From: lentil 17/02/2000 16:23:00
Subject: re: Poison post id: 39498
The pits or seeds of many fruits contain cyanide, which makes them toxic

Cyanide is commonly thought of as a gas, but you also can be poisoned by it if you ingest wild
cherry syrup, prussic acid, bitter almond oil, or large amounts of apricot pits. Cherry seeds,
peach and plum pits, corn, chickpeas, cashews, and some other fruits and vegetables contain
cyanogenic (i.e., cyanide-forming) glycosides (such as amygdalin) that release hydrogen cyanide when chewed or digested. As a result, some cyanide can also be found in fruit jams that contain these pit and pip extracts, such as quince. However, since the concentration of cyanide in these compounds is small, accidental cyanide poisoning from a food source is rare. But, if the correct materials are deliberately concentrated it can make an effective poison, as the Romans and Egyptians knew. They used to grind up peach kernels to make poisons.


From: Zardoz ®
Subject: Medical
What's the poison in apple pips ?
There is cyanide in apple pips, but not enough to be toxic. So don't worry about eating your apple core, you won't die!

The characteristic flavour that you get chewing the seeds, just like bitter almonds, comes from the cyanide. Technically speaking, it is more correct to say that the seeds contain cyanogenic substances that produce cyanide when hydrolysed by the appropriate enzymes, once the seeds are damaged and exposed to air. This happens when they are crushed and may also happen in the gut.

The most dangerous plant with respect to cyanide poisoning is cherry laurel, very widely planted in the UK. People have also been poisoned by almond and apricot kernels.

From: Cam (Avatar) 17/02/2000 23:47:00
Subject: re: Poison post id: 39632
I just looked up a book on edible plants. Some stone fruit, like apricots, have hydrocyanic acid in the kernel. It seems to indicate that prussic acid is the same as hydrocyanic acid, which sounds reasonable, given the connection between the colours - cyan and prussian blue - but I diverge from the point. Hydrocyanic acid has a bitter almond taste.

It goes on to talk about the other common plant poison, oxalic acid, which is found in a bunch of plants incliding rhubarb. Oxalic acid is characterised by a hot burning sensation in the gob if you eat it (followed by a dying sensation I suspect).

The biggest difference between the two poisons (from the culinary point of view) is that hydrocyanic acid is water soluble, and can be removed by boiling. Whereas oxalic acid is much more stubborn, so boiling your rhubarb leaves won't help.

So if your apricot jam has pips in it (as is the old fashioned custom), you can eat them with impunity, the poison has been cooked out - but where has it gone? Presumably it resides in the rest of the jam!

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