Picture of a Red AppleApples. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Does it really? One often wonders where this sort of phraseology comes from. If you eat the whole thing, and eat lots of apples, you could actually poison yourself if you ate enough of them. You see, apple seeds contain amygdalin, a compound that changes into hydrogen cyanide when it is metabolized by the body.

Hydrogen cyanide is a deadly poison that makes for a quick death that include a final horrifying last few moments.

Oh the deadly apple. If you're thinking this might be a way to do in that spouse you've grown tired of, you might be rightif you were able to obtain enough apple seeds to extract the amygdalin. Just for the sake of argument, you could get enough poison from a bushel of apples for the deed.

If that was your plan however, you'd be better off with peach or apricot pits. One pit has enough poison to potentially kill someone. Two would do for the job for sure and three would probably be overdoing it. If peach and apricot pits are unavailable, well then give cherry pits a try.

Does this mean that A is for Amazing?

I find it amazing that such deadly poisons are available in the produce section of local grocery store. This raises a big question though, when shopping for your potent brew.

Does it make any difference if you buy organic?

I would think so. Extracting the amygdalin is probably much easier if you don't have to worry about everyday chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and the organic food police interfering with your devious plan.

By the way, if you're still reading with hopes that I will dispense the secret to extracting poison from fruit, keep reading. I guarantee you will not find this information here. Mainly because...

A is for Amygdalin

Amygdalin is an organic compound of sugar and cyanide. When the flower of the fruit is fertilized with pollen by a bee or by the wind or some other means, the flower blossom withers and all the energy is directed at building the seed and ensuring that it will have at least some change of growing into a new fruit tree.

Often, the tree's fruit is eaten by some hungry critter, often a human, but just as often a bird, and the seed is then dropped elsewhere with a copious supply of nutrients in the form of um... fertilizer. Right. Manure specifically. Compounds in the manure finish the job that digestion could not. The hard outer shell of the seed begins to crack open, the seed germinates, a new sprout emerges that will grow into a new fruit tree.

Perhaps in another post I will tell you about hybridization and true seeds and open pollination and...

A is not for Arsenic

If anyone ever told you, or you read somewhere that apple seeds contain arsenic, your information is off the mark. This rumor started years ago, probably by someone who didn't like apples, or apple cider, or apple juice or even apple sauce. Apple seeds contain cyanide, not arsenic.

So, feed that doctor an apple a day, and I'm certain he'll stay away.

Photo Credit: Red Apple by Abhijit Tembhekar at Wikimedia Commons