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Cyanide in cherry pits leached out by vinegar?  RSS feed

 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Last week I harvested a few pounds from my Nanking Cherry bush to make jam, and used my food strainer to pit the cherries, which worked pretty well. The pits were still pretty juicy, so I threw them in some vinegar, thinking that cherry vinegar would be a pretty tasty base for salad dressings, etc.

Then I realized, hmmm....nanking cherry is in the prunus family, which means that these seeds have small amounts of a form of cyanide in them. Not something I worry about if I swallowed a couple of them whole, but will the vinegar leach that out of the seed? I'd like not to serve poison salad this week. Any thoughts?
 
John Elliott
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Acid releases cyanide -- to the air. Once released, cyanide is very volatile, lighter than air, and readily disperses. That is why, if you do a lacto-fermentation on some high cyanide containing fodder, the cyanide disappears and it becomes safe to feed.

Second point to note is that in all the Prunus seeds, the cyanide containing compound, amygdalin, is contained inside the pit. You have to crack the rather hard hull of the pit open and get to the true seed inside.

So no, I don't think your salad dressing is going to be toxic.
 
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