Sweet and Bitter Almonds
The seeds of Prunus dulcis var. dulcis are predominately sweet, but some individual trees produce seeds that are somewhat more bitter. The fruits from Prunus dulcis var. amara are always bitter as are the kernels from other Prunus species like apricot, peach and cherry (to a lesser extent).
The bitter almond is slightly broader and shorter than the sweet almond, and contains about 50% of the fixed oil that occurs in sweet almonds. It also contains the enzyme emulsin which, in the presence of water, acts on a soluble glucoside, amygdalin, yielding glucose, cyanide and the essential oil of bitter almonds, which is nearly pure benzaldehyde. Bitter almonds may yield from 4–9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond. Extract of bitter almond was once used medicinally, but even in small doses, effects are severe, and in larger doses can be deadly; the cyanide must be removed before consumption.
All commercially grown almonds are of the "sweet" variety.
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Other articles related to "sweet and bitter almonds, sweet, bitter, bitter almond":
... dulcis are predominately sweet, but some individual trees produce seeds that are somewhat more bitter ... amara are always bitter as are the kernels from other Prunus species like apricot, peach and cherry (to a lesser extent) ... The bitter almond is slightly broader and shorter than the sweet almond, and contains about 50% of the fixed oil that occurs in sweet almonds ...
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