Never go in against a cherry pit when death is on the line! Ha ha ha...
July 6, 2016 3:03 PM   Subscribe

We're making BBQ sauce. Yay! A single cherry pit has been chopped up by a hand blender in an 8 quart pot of sauce. Boo! Should we toss this pot or will it be safe?

Our concern: cherry pits contain amygdalin which turns into cyanide which can kill you. Usually a swallowed pit or two isn't of concern because the amygdalin is contained within the un-digestible pit but we've chopped it up pretty good greatly increasing exposure.

There is significant cooking left does that have any effect on either the amygdalin or cyanide? Have we diluted it enough considering the small amount that would be consumed at any one setting?
posted by Mitheral to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This link is about the cyanide content of a liqueur that contains crushed cherry pits, but seems optimistic overall for your situation. Assuming it really was just the one cherry pit.

The upshot is that you need to consume quite a lot of amygdalin to get cyanide poisoning.
posted by Sara C. at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you already sent it through a sieve to find any remaining shrapnel, or is your blender so awesome that it's 100% certain to be sawdust now? That would be my first step.
posted by aimedwander at 3:17 PM on July 6, 2016

You will be fine. I have a couple of recipes for cherry juice that call for whizzing two pounds unpitted cherries in the blender, then straining out the pit fragments. I have drunk multiple cherry limeades from this recipe over multiple years and I appear to still be alive.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:22 PM on July 6, 2016 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: We've picked out what we can as soon as we heard it getting chopped up but for worst case I am assuming a full pit was pureed.
posted by Mitheral at 3:23 PM on July 6, 2016

Best answer: Here's a great breakdown of how much amygdalin (and thus cyanide) is in different stone fruit pits. Relevant pulls:

"Most studies show that 5 mg of hydrogen cyanide spread out over a day can be detoxified by our liver without a problem"

"-Cherry kernels contain about 3% amygdalin which yields 0.17% HCN
-500 grams of cherry kernels per litre of brandy x 0.17% HCN = 850mg of cyanide per litre of liqueur
-So, for every millilitre (850 mg / 1000 ml (1L)) there is 0.85 mg of cyanide. In a one ounce shot, there would be 25.5 mg of HCN."

You're probably fine. A single pit doesn't have problematic levels of amygdalin.

Anecdotal backup: my kid ate a cherry whole when he was 2, and had no ill effect.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:29 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dangit. Sarah C; I swear to god I had the bookmarked independently, and am not trying to steal your thunder.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:30 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd be more concerned about somebody chipping a tooth on a stray pit fragment.
posted by contraption at 4:18 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]

Yeah I'm not worried about poison here but you're begging to break a tooth. Strain the whole thing, then enjoy. Looks delicious.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2016

Strain it and enjoy! The latest thing among the hippie set is to consume a handful of apricot kernels daily (on purpose) for cancer prevention, so if there's not enough cyanide in that to kill anyone, one tiny cherry pit should be safe. (But don't, uh, quote me on that...)
posted by jhope71 at 6:01 PM on July 6, 2016

Response by poster: OK, we're going to jar this up. I'd seen the art of drinks article and it sounded good but I wasn't confident I was following the math enough to tell whether it was accurate or not. And a broad search gets results everywhere from a single ground up pit can kill a child to nothing to worry about in any non concentrated amount; none of them providing any sort of numbers to support their position.
posted by Mitheral at 6:33 PM on July 6, 2016

Whole pits are not problematic at all since they, er... pass right through.

You're fine with one that's been broken up a bit, not even ground fully.
posted by supercres at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2016

Heck, ground-up cherry kernels are even used as a spice (mahlab). Though those are from a specific kind of cherry.
posted by aws17576 at 7:06 PM on July 6, 2016

Now you just have to give this recipe a good name..."Pit of Death Sauce"!
posted by floweredfish at 7:10 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have no idea about whether or not you will die, but I do feel I need to commend you on an awesome title! Not only a great reference, but mixed with the poisoning...classic.
posted by wile e at 6:38 AM on July 7, 2016

« Older How do I follow up with a networking contact?   |   Posted to Ft. Jackson (Columbia, SC), need apt. w/... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.