Monday, November 24, 2014

How many amaretti will it take to kill you?

What does this photo have to do with amaretti? Well she is sweet...
Also she has been a victim of 'natural' healing. More later.
From our lunch yesterday. How will she look with a head of hair? I can't imagine.
From the Italian market, among many other goodies, we bought amaretti which Naomi quickly proceeded to down at an alarming rate. I told her she might want to limit herself as these contain cyanide. Is there a label warning of this? Well they do warn of possible traces of gluten and hazelnuts, nothing about the cyanide.

Many fruit seeds contain a bound form of cyanide that can be released during digestion. Amaretti are usually made from apricot kernels (inside the apricot pit). Apricots (albacotte) are much more prevalent in Italy than in the US. Apricot nectar is routinely served (and tastes much better than the American version). Steve was distressed to find that the croissants served, more often than not, contained apricot jelly (he wants plain). Croissants were called brioche in the north and cornetti in the south. What to do with the by-product, the kernel? Waste not, want not. Convert them to cookies and liquor (amaretto, amaro, etc). Apricot kernels are close cousins to almonds and taste almondy. I do like almonds and anything that tastes like them. I also wanted Naomi to leave some of these for me.

According to the Merck Index (Steve insists on having this on our book shelf), a lethal dose of cyanide is 50-60 mg. (for size comparison, a baby aspirin is 81 mg).  An apricot kernel that weighs 600 mg contains 0.3 mg to 1.8 mg cyanide depending on its variety (sweet or bitter..bitter has more flavor and is used for Amaro). My 200 g package (amaretti are light weight as they contain little water) is 20% apricot kernels so the whole package contains 40 g (or 40,000 mg) of kernels. Doing a bit of math, assuming they used 'sweet' kernels, the entire package contains 2.1 mg of cyanide so she will need to eat 20 to 30 packages, much less if they use the more potent (6 times as much) bitter apricots. Aren't you glad you have a nerdy blogging friend?

This assumes that none of the cyanide is released in the cooking process, which it probably is. It is lost entirely preparing the amaretto, so you are safe there. Not sure about the Amaro but it is so bitter, that should limit your consumption.

So has anyone died from apricot kernel consumption? The internet says yes. A particularly potent variety of Turkish kernels poisoned some people. They were recalled. But no deaths from amaretti.
So I do have a reliable source to make 'pesche ripiene' which I've made for the moms in the past. Peach halves are stuffed with a mix of amaretti and chocolate, baked and then served with sweetened marscapone cheese. I have had problems finding the amaretti and having to substitute Trader Joe's Brutti ma Bellissimo ( ugly but beautiful) which are made from a mix of whole and crushed hazelnuts.

And there have been indirect deaths. Back in the 70s, 'natural' healers touted Laetrile as the 'cure' for cancer. This stuff came from ground up apricot pits so it is natural. Unfortunately, it did not cure cancer. So some people did not have traditional chemotherapy and died.

The premise that 'natural' healing is completely devoid of wanting to make a profit is false and drives me crazy.

Allie has been having a series of ear infections. The other grandmother's advice is to take Allie to the chiropractor to have her back aligned so her sinuses will be aligned (a non sequitur if there ever was one). Julie's sister too had lots of ear infections that happened to stop after a visit. Of course, she also happened to age out of the time that ear infections happen. And there is never just one visit is there. Things need to be' aligned' regularly. Josh just sighed. You need to pick your battles.

A friend goes to an acupuncturist weekly if not twice weekly to treat her neuropathic pain. This guy also touts lots of natural remedies. He has a supply of natural estrogen which he insists will make her feel better. Yeah, it probably would as the oncologist has given her antiestrogen pills that make her feel crappy. But then his natural remedy will feed her possible cancer. Pick your poison.

The weekend was fairly quiet. Yesterday I ran in the warm (relative to the week before) mist and came home to find Josh and Allie (and Naomi). We all went for lunch. Later a friend came and watched the second half of Olive Kitteridge ( I can watch it several times, it is so good). She too worries how much Olive is in her but I suspect much less than is in me.

Next up: Thanksgiving planning. Everyone is coming here. More grumbling from Steve about our too small dining room (which doubles as his den) and reminders that the nice expensive house would have plenty of room.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

The 'natural is good' brigade forget (conveniently) about quite a lot of the natural killers. Arsenic, cyanide and rather a lot of other things.
Happy Thanksgiving.


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