Can I tell you this weird thing I did? You might frown upon this, but I infused some brandy with apricot and cherry pits. I've learned that this is what generally flavors almond extract, these seeds from fruit in the almond family, along with almonds. Instead of composting my pits, I decided to make a liqueur.
Why would you frown? Because there's debate on whether those pits (or the kernels, to be exact) are okay to ingest. They contain amygdalin, which breaks down into prussic acid or Hydrogen cyanide, a poison. When I was a child I remember my mom warning me to not eat the peach pit's kernel even though it looked like a tasty almond, because it contained cyanide. That scared the bejesus out of me. But, through heating or soaking, this poison is eliminated. There is a liqueur called créme de noyaux, made with these kernels. And I was intrigued by this post on making almond extract; I just dispensed with the whole cracking open the kernels thing. Throwing pits in a jar to make a tasty liqueur? Sounds like my kind of thing. Interestingly, apricot kernels and the amygdalin they contain are touted as a cure for cancer. I did some research and came to the conclusion that my mason jar full of pits wasn't a problem. I think I read that you'd have to eat 72 kernels to even get sick. So.
I filled a quart mason jar with the pits, both apricot and cherry (which also is in the prunus family), and topped it with brandy. A month or so later, after sitting in the dark basement and being agitated every so often, it turned into the most amazing smelling brew. I am partial to the smell of almonds, so it was swoon-worthy. Smelled like almond extract. I should have kept it where it was, but I added a bit too much simple syrup to it and diluted it a bit. Next year, when I make it again, I will leave it intact.
What am I going to do with all these liqueurs I have been concocting? Well, I don't sip cordials all day long, even though I should. I used some of this liqueur in canning some pears. Like brandied fruit, but a little lighter. Post to follow!