It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is peach pit jelly safe, since peach pits contain cyanide?

I was watching CSI tonight and learned that peach pits contained cyanide. I started checking into it on the internet and found out it is true. I assume it would take a lot of pits to be deadly. My question is in regard to an old family recipe for peach pit jelly. I make this jelly every summer from the skins and pits of the peaches that I can. I cover them in water and cook them down for about 20 to 30 minutes, strain the juice and make jelly. We have always eaten this jelly and seem to be okay, but are we in any danger from this?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

fresh peaches and peach jam

Peach pits do contain "cyanide," but it's in a form called amygdalin. You can find out about this here: Peach Pits and Cyanide.

I have searched for information regarding making the jelly from the peach pits and skins and can't find any indication that it is dangerous. I found no reports of ill effects. The fact that you and others have been making it for years and have not had any adverse effects is comforting.

Thanks for writing.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet