Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweet vs. Bitter

I grew up eating apricot pits. My brothers, cousins, and I would hold big rocks at grandma's house and crack them by the dozens and dozens.

Probably the first time I had any inkling that that's not always possible was years later, eating them at my parents' house. My sister-in-law said, "Apricot seeds have cyanide in them, I'm not eating any." I thought, whatever, we've been eating them for years.

Later I heard grandma mention to someone that she had planted a new apricot tree and that it had edible pits, but that another somewhere else on the farm didn't.

It wasn't until after ours were bought and planted that I wondered if our trees had edible pits. We've had one for five or six years, and we planted two more last year. The older tree is loaded with apricots this year and I've been drying and freezing apricots. With all those pits hanging around, I hated the thought of throwing them away if they are edible.

I went searching for apricot pit information and learned that the bitter pits are supposedly cancer fighting, but they also contain cyanide. Eating 10 can kill a child, eating 40 can kill an adult. But if the seeds are sweet, or rather have an almond flavor to them, they are safe to eat.

So I did some checking. We only got a few apricots off the two little trees, some of which fell before I could even get to them. I went and grabbed a couple seeds from under the tree and tried one. Bitter. So those two are anti-carcinogenic according to ancient and alternate medicine, but also cyanidogenic (if that's not a word yet, I get credit for making it up).

I was going to wait till the older tree seeds dried before I tried one, but got impatient. Grabbed the hammer, cracked it - ALMONDY!

So yee haw, looks like I've got one edible, two non-edible.

From the table at the bottom of the bitter pits article, it says 'wild apricot pits' are superior sources of the good stuff, and that 'apricot pits' are excellent sources. I wonder if the non-wild ones are the sweet pits?


  1. I love apricots. They are my favorite fruit. I've never eaten the pits. We can't really grown them around here because of such a late freeze date, so I just have to live with what comes into the store!

  2. You can eat the pits?! I never knew. Thanks for the enlightenment.