Is it Safe to Eat Apricot Kernels?
You might come across a recipe which calls for the use of sweet apricot kernels, that differ from bitter apricot kernels, which are used as a flavoring agent in jams, candies, pastes, custards, and other baking applications. Europeans and others often use them to enhance jams and jellies, putting a kernel is each jar, which isn’t normally consumed. Italians crush them to make the famous Amaretti di Saronno cookies, and Asian markets stock them in their spice aisles.
Anything can be dangerous if used incorrectly; Vitamin A, eaten in very large quantities can be toxic, some people consider MSG dangerous (others wonder why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?), and parsley and chives contain small quantities of oxalic acid, the same thing that makes rhubarb leaves inedible.
Some raw or undercooked foods and dishes pose a risk; milk, sushi, cheese (raw, as well as ones said to be made with pasteurized milk), Caesar salad, shellfish, sunny side-up eggs, and rare meat are a few of them. But even everyday foods aren’t necessarily safe as well, as recent recalls of peanut butter, cantaloupes, honey, cookie dough, and pistachios have proved.
Here are some links to articles from universities and other sources. These can give you an idea of any dangers from apricot kernels and to help you decide if you need to avoid them, or if they’re okay to use.
As with anything, if you are unsure if it is edible or you don’t feel comfortable eating it, don’t eat it. And if you’re foraging for wild ingredients, if you’re not sure something is suitable for consumption, consult your local cooperative agricultural extension for advice before consuming it.
Seeds of Anxiety (Washington Post)
Amaretti di Saronno (Lazzaroni)
Cyanide in Bitter Apricot Kernels (Health Canada)
Concerned About Consumption of Apricot Kernels (New Zealand Food Safety Authority)
Apricot Kernels (Wikipedia)
Utilization of Stone Fruit Kernels as a Source of Oil for Edible and Non-Edible Purposes (International Society for Horticultural Science)
Sweet Apricot Kernels, Reviewed (Baking Bites)
Apricot Kernels–How Nutty! (Chicago Sun-Times)
How to use Stone Fruit Pits (Food 52)