LL Kaplan
About Author
June 12, 2020
Killer Recipes/Pastry Forward

Sweet Almonds and Cyanide Dreams

"It smells of bitter almonds," said the inspector. "You know what that means. Cyanide."

Cyanide. Almonds. Along with Arsenic and Strychnine, Cyanide has long been the darling of the murder mystery, especially the ones by Agatha Christie. Cyanide is a naturally occurring toxin present in such popular foods as Almonds, Apples (the seeds) and Apricots (the pit) as well as other members of the Prunus genus.

Oh, great, you might say, as you ponder how much Cyanide is in that Almond Milk you now drink for your health. So if they can be so dangerous, why do we keep eating the noxious nuts then? And why, dear author, did you put this post in the recipe blog of all places? Well, to be honest, I did debate whether to include the post here or in my Loose Ends blog. However, as discussed below, they're a perfectly innocent ingredient for any "killer" recipe, as long as you use the right variety!

Sweet Almonds are perfectly safe, Cyanide wise, and are the variety grown and sold in the U.S. The amount of Cyanide in one sweet almond is negligible. A person would have to eat over 80 dozen or so sweet almonds in a single sitting to reach a lethal dose of Cyanide. While it conceivably could be done, it's likely one's stomach would be protesting long before the 80th dozen.

Bitter Almonds, however, are another story. This variety can be lethal by eating only 4-30 of the ominous nuggets. And almond milk? No worries, quite safe. Believe it or not, a cup of almond milk only contains a few sweet almonds, far short of the toxic amount. Want more? This article goes into a little more detail without too much jargon.

So, unless there's an almond allergy preventing you, feel free to slice, dice, bake or indulge (in moderation of course). I'd stick with the sweet almonds though, unless you really want a killer recipe of the criminal variety.

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