Definition of Apricot KernelAn apricot kernel is the nut-like object found within the hard, outer shell of the apricot seed or stone.
The term apricot seed refers to the whole pit found at the core of the fruit. The seed comprises a dense, hard outer shell that serves to protect a softer, fleshy kernel within from which the plant ultimately grows. The term apricot seeds is often used in reference to apricot kernels, though apricot seeds are technically whole apricot stones. The word apricot seed can be both singular and plural. The term apricot seed may refer to a collective or one, as in:
Definition of Apricot Seed
We will process 400 tonnes of apricot seed this year.
If you plant this apricot seed, its kernel will sprout and a tree will grow.
More about apricot kernels
Apricot kernels are closely related to the almond, which is also part of the rose family. They have a nutritional profile similar to that of almonds. Apricot kernels are often bitter in flavor due to varying concentrations of a cyanogenic glycoside called, 'Amygdalin'. There are hundreds of different cultivars of apricot kernels grown all over the world, each possessing different quantities of amygdalin. Those that contain very little amygdalin taste similar to almonds. Those that contain large concentrations are generally thought of as unpalatable due to their extreme bitterness. This bitterness, or lack of, is indicative of amygdalin content. Apricot kernels of these varieties are believed, by many, to have therapeutic value against various cancers due to their high concentrations of amygdalin. This concept is widely considered very controversial. The apricot itself is believed to have originated in China, where it's been used in both culinary and therapeutic capacities for centuries. Scientific studies from as recently as 2005 have demonstrated potential efficacy. Scientists in Korea found that treating human prostate cancer cells with amygdalin induced programmed cell death in vitro. They concluded, "amygdalin may offer a valuable option for the treatment of prostate cancers".
Although bitter apricot kernels are most famously known for their use in alternative cancer therapies or natural cancer treatments, many people are unaware of their other common uses. The common Italian liqueur, Amaretto, is made from bitter apricot kernels. In fact, the Italian word amaretto can mean, 'a little bitter' or 'macaroon'. Many people would be familiar with a famous Italian treat known as amaretti biscuits. These are, indeed, little macaroons also made from bitter apricot kernels.
The most famous flavor incorporating apricot kernels today is marzipan. Though marzipan was once traditionally made with bitter almonds, they have become very difficult to procure. They are often now replaced by bitter apricot kernels. When made with bitter apricot kernels, the technical term for this paste is, 'persipan', though it is often referred to as, "marzipan". Both bitter almonds and bitter apricot kernels contain amygdalin. Amygdalin can be processed down into its constituent parts to form hydrocyanic acid, benzaldehyde and glucose. The benzaldehyde component of the amygdalin molecule is sold commercially as "almond extract". This extract is often used in place of either bitter almonds or bitter apricot kernels to provide a traditional marzipan flavoring to various recipes that require it.
Apricot kernel oil is another popular use for apricot kernels.