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Apricot Jam w/ cyanide Noyaux

38 comments /
I think apricot jam is underrated. Well, it always was by me, at least. Not sure why. Perhaps because I always used it as an understudy, as opposed to letting it be the star.  The jam I've tried has always been fairly, well...neutral. Dull. Uneventful. Not worth writing home about.  I used it to "seal" the crumb of a cake or melted it in preparation for glazing fruit on a tart or cake.  Maybe it's that I never really took the time to get to know the apricot itself.  I mean sure, I love snacking on dried apricots...but it's not often I grab an apricot to just eat out-of-hand.  I hardly ever see them fresh.  Maybe for a fleeting moment.  The ones at grocery stores are cultivated for shipping.  Picked hard and pale and tasteless.  No wonder apricots have been all but forgotten in their "natural" state.  In the last year or so I've seen some really pretty, tempting, little apricoty-orange ones popping up at the farmer's market.  I decided these little beauties needed their name in lights!  Did you know that apricots do NOT continue to ripen after they're plucked from the tree?  No wonder they lost their appeal stuck amidst the hard peaches and mealy apples in the supermarket.  BUT, if plucked ripe and sagging from the tree...expect a burst of golden juice when you take that first bite...some juice dribbling from your lips because you don't have time to close them before it bursts!  What a pleasant surprise.  A star is born! 

Okay, so now that I actually know an apricot has a flavor of its own, what do I do with it? Turn it into jam. HA!  But, jam that's rich and caramely and golden orange...with a hint of bitter almond.  Jam that begs to be spooned onto toast or layered into a tart.  Or just eaten straight.  Seriously.  It was so tasty, I ate it from the spoon.

Let's talk first about that bitter almond flavor I adore so much.  Did you know that it comes from the pit of an apricot?  I didn't.  Basically the flavor is stuck inside the kernel that lies inside the pit of an apricot.  The flavor that can also be deadly!  That's right...what else do you think of when you think bitter almond flavor? Cyanide! Yikes!  The kernel, actual name Noyaux, contains an enzyme that when mixed with water makes prussic acid.  Poison.  Why in the world, then, is that flavor so desireable?  Have you tasted amaretto? YUM.  That's why.  Fortunately, there's a way to safeguard against accidentally poisoning yourself and your loved ones.  Roasting the noyaux kills that enzyme.  It's a simple process, too.  First, cut the apricot in half...just follow the natural butt-crack and make your way around.  Oh come on...you know it looks like a cute, fuzzy little bootie.  Okay, remove the pit.  Rinse all the stuck on apricot from the pits and place them on a sheet/pan and roast them in a 350 degree F oven for ~15 minutes.  Now, crack open the pits to extract the kernel (noyaux).  But be prepared- the kernel is hard! It's like trying to crack a walnut or an almond from its shell.  Use a hammer or the butt end of the knife...or a nutcracker.  Now, stick 'em back in the oven and roast them for another 10 minutes or so.  Better to be safe than dead.  Chop them up and they're ready to use.
Bitter Almond Flavored Apricot Jam
from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters
makes 4 c.

2 1/2 lbs. apricots, pitted and cut into 1/2" chunks
3 c. sugar
Noyaux (apricot kernels *see above)- 10 or fewer
Juice of 1 lemon

Stir the diced apricots and sugar together in a large heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot.  Let the mixture stand at least 30 minutes, to overnight...this will let the apricots release their juices and the sugar dissolve.  Chop up your noyaux and add to the fruit and sugar (they are strong, so don't use more than 10 for a batch this size).  Put a small plate in freezer to use later for checking the consistency of the jam.

Prepare four 8-oz. canning jars and self-sealing lids, per manufacturer's directions.

Bring the pot of fruit to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom.  The mixture will bubbleup dramatically, rising high up the sides of the pot.  Skim off any light-colored foam that rises and collects on the sides.  Soon the jam will boil down, forming smaller, thicker bubbles.  At this point, start testing for consistency by putting a small spoonful of jam on the plate.  This will cool off the jam sample quickly so you can tell what finished texture will be like.  When the jam has cooked to the thickness you want, stir in the lemon juice.  Turn off heat and carefully ladle the jam into the prepared canning jars, allowing at least 1/4" of headroom.  Seal, per manufacturer's instructions.  The jam will keep for about a year.  Alternately, make a smaller batch and keep it in the fridge or use it right away.
If you're nervous about using the noyaux, you can leave it out.  My first few bites I felt all tingly...kind of like my throat was closing up.  I felt sort of anxious and my mouth was watering.  Now, I roasted those kernels like there was no tomorrow...but I think it was sort of a placebo-effect sort of thing.  Or perhaps there was a bit of that toxin still in there...the feeling some one is said to get from eating Fugu (Pufferfish).  I may never know.  The important this is...I'm still here.  Writing this post and drooling once again over apricot jam that is packed full of bitter almond and rich caramel notes...with pleasant chunks of actual fruit!

It's Tuesday, and you know what that means!  Or do you?  It's time for another round of Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival! 
24TbadgeGIRLICHEF
Add your REAL FOOD link at the bottom of this post and then leave a comment so I know you've joined in this week! And remember, your link will show up at all 4 host sites for Two for Tuesdays! Thanks for making and eating REAL food and sharing it with us.

*If you missed the Two for Tuesdays announcement and wonder what it's all about, just click on the badge or HERE and it'll take you to the explanation page!!

I am also submitting this to Tuesday Twister at Gnowfglins and Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
TuesdayTwisterRealFoodWednesdays




38 comments

  1. Wow - look at that. My link just magically appeared after posted it at A Moderate Life! Very cool. Thanks for giving me a place to share recipes. My rice noodle salad is sure to knock your socks off. Yum!

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  2. Actually the cyanide in the apricot kernel is the desired product for many. What people don't know (because the government likes the money that cancer "research" makes) is that this cyanide needs a catalyst in order to be fully released. This catalyst is a cancer cell. The cyanide thus effectively kills the cancer cell while the rest of the kernel brings nourishing vitamins to your body. But I would caution overdoing consumption. Only eat as many kernels as you would be able to eat fruit (apricot). Simple logic goes along way, so yes, eating a cup full would not have desirous effects. Personally I have about 5 - 10 raw kernels a day.

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  3. One of the houses we lived in when I was a child had an apricot tree and they were the most amazing fruit to eat! too bad mom wasn't a "baker" and never made apricot jam. Your jam looks amazing!! And ya...those little fuzzy butts are cute LMAO

    My entry for real food...is in.

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  4. I love apricots and your jam looks amazing. You are so daring with the cyanide and the pits. ;-) Glad you are still with us!

    I posted a delicious hummus made with my leftover homemade tahini for T4T. (I combined it in my Things I Am Loving This Week post so I could still play along!)

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  5. Don't you just love homemade jams? Well, obviously you do! Buyt count me in too :_)

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  6. Considering how much I LOVE amaretto. This is going to have to be made. Cyanide or no cyanide. I bet it would be really great with peaches as well.

    And when the placebo effect refers to something negative, it's called the NOCEBO effect! God we doctors really have bad senses of humor.

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  7. Your jam sounds wonderful! I love making homemade jam.

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  8. apricots are quite coveted here.. at least for me. Most of the time the trees are hit by freeze before they have a chance to set their blooms. Like you stated, those found in the store seldom have the taste that a fresh one from the tree seems to have. :Yet this year we had a bumper crop. I made apricot jam, apricot tarts, dried apricots and more.

    There is noting like a nothing like a nice cup of coffee in the morning and a little apricot tart to pop in you mouth... to me the apricot is the fruit of the Gods.

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  9. Great post. come to think of it I don't think I've ever had apricot jam.

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  10. Andrea...Yes! I've read about the cyanide being used in cancer research- and somewhat successfully. That's wonderful and I hope that alternative and "un-western" cures will one day be accepted by our government. Since I don't know enough about it, I didn't want to cite it in my post...but thank you for pointing it out! =)

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  11. I am so glad you learned the secret of the juicy, ripe apricot. Those of us that knew wanted to keep it all for ourselves bwahhaha. Sorry, I got a little carried away. My Tia Sallo taught me to make apricot jam from the crooked little tree on the ranch in Northern NM. We would make it for the pastelitos filling for Christmas. No way Christmas happens without these tartlets of joy.
    My brother used the kernels in his treatment for cancer. I had forgotten about that until I read the comments here.
    Have a super day, my dear says The Olde Bagg

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  12. I had a friend in my late teens that worked for a company who took the almond pit center and was trying to find a cure for cancer with it- was great you shared the education with us! I love apricots, because of my mom, otherwise I might not have ever tried one until now...I owe hubby an apricot cake...shhh, he has not remembered, and it would so affect my eating sweets right now!

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  13. Except for the part about accidentally poisoning myself this sounds really good. I'd like to try. think you could you try adding bitter almond extract/oil? Just a thought.
    ~ingrid

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  14. Glad you are still with us. You are so brave. This was a really well written and educational post and your jam looks terrific.

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  15. Linda...ooooh, how delightful!! What a wonderful tradition...the secret is out...mwaaa haaa haaa ;)

    E...I won't say anything =)

    Ingrid...I'm sure you could, but where's the danger in that ;) LOL...yes, great idea!

    Penny...LOL, thanks!

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  16. Hi Heather! Wow, what a beautiful entry. Apricots have always been a favorite of mine, in fact, one of the first things I used to make regularly, way back, was Dried Apricot Chicken Salad, yum! I'll have to give this a try. My sister will love it on her favorite sandwich...peanut butter and apricot preserves.

    Thanks!

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  17. The apricot jam looks thick, sweet and amazing. I would love to slather it on some freshly baked bread, or anything else for that matter ;-)

    Just linked up to T4T with my sour plum popsicles.

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  18. Hi Heather, I added my link and I'm sorry I have to run out the door right now - I'll be back later to visit!

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  19. I adore apricot jam - especially with cream cheese on bagels. I envy you your beautifully ripe apricots. We have to wait for a few weeks before apricots are ready here.

    -Elizabeth

    (I think I added my link but don't see it. I'll try again a little later if it seems that it really is missing.)

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  20. This jam looks wonderful Heather! I've added my link for this week's Two for Tuesdays!

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  21. Oh amazing! I was trying to convince my hubby to start liking apricots so that I could make apricot jam. Alas he hates them. I don't understand it. And I just don't eat enough jam to justify making it. This looks sooooo yummy... especially with a croissant and a mug of steaming milky coffee. ;)

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  22. Do you know if this method can be used with the kernels of all stone fruit? I've got my eye on some wild plum bushes, and come canning time, it would be great to be able to use even more of the fruit.

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  23. BPB...no, I didn't. I thought I'd read you could use peaches the same way, but didnt' realize it extended to all stone fruit. Are you talking about roasting the pit and extracting the kernel?? Do they all have different flavors?

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  24. I adore apricots! They are quite hard to find here - there is a small window of time in July when they briefly show up. I bet your jam is divine! I wasn't aware of the cyanide. You are a daring soul...

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  25. My mom always loved apricots and I never "got" it. Then last week, she and I found some at a farmer's market and for the first time I tasted a good, ripe, apricot and found it AMAZING! Mother does know best....sometimes. I love the look and sound of this jam. Great post, I especially loved the bit about where cyanide comes from. Who knew?!

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  26. Home made Apricot jam is my all time favorite. When I was a girl we had a fabulous apricot tree. In the summer I would just hang out by the tree and eat apricot. My mother would shoo me away so she would have apricots for jam, cobblers and pies(there really was enough for everone, I don't think she wanted to to OD on fruit).
    Mimi

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  27. what adore fresh homemade a lil piece of heaven great snaps as well

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  28. Not to confuse too much, I linked up two recipes from my two blogs to make a match for Two for Tuesdays.

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  29. Heathie, I absolutely adore you and the way you write about things! From now on I will be calling apricots fuzzy booties! ;) I learn so much from your posts, like I had no clue that roasting the kernels made them UN-poisonous! Very cool recipe. My good friend who lives in CAli has a few apricot trees and I am gonna tell her she has to make this and then send me some! :) hugs and thanks for sharing the real food love on the blog hop and for being a hostess with the mostest! :) alex

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  30. Heather, I love your posts! This is jam looks absolutely to die for (not literally though - roast those pits well!) I had no idea that apricot pits were edible OR that they were poisonous uncooked. I learned so much from this post! Thanks so much for bringing it to Two for Tuesdays! I'm so glad that you did! :)

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  31. What an awesome post!! I've have gathered untold amounts of wild fruits and hauled it to my grandmother for jellies and jams. Going to have to try it myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Jason

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  32. http://freshslowcooking.comJune 30, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Great post. The info about the cyanide in the apricot pit is really interesting. I bet your jam tastes amazing with all the effort you put into it :)

    I'm determined to make at least one batch of jam this summer and maybe can some peaches.

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  33. Sorry for the confusion, I was wondering if you knew if the kernels from all stone fruit are edible once roasted. I have no idea! It would be great if they were.

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  34. butt crack- ha ha! I feel like a 13 year old.

    This is so pretty and golden. yuM!

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  35. BPB...LOL, guess we're in the same boat. I've lazily looked it up a few times and haven't found a definitive answer. I know cherry pits add great flavor, as well...but not sure about the kernels of the other pits being edible. From what I have found, it seems like they have the same properties as that of the apricot, but...?????

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  36. Wow! What a great recipe Heather! Thanks for adding it to my canning linky!

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  37. I never knew that you can open up the pit of the apricot or that it was edible.

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