A quick recap: apricot pits, cherry pits, peach leaves, and bitter almonds all get their heavenly aroma of almonds from prussic acid, otherwise known as cyanide. Generally trace amounts of it are so small that it's virtually harmless; hence people using it to flavor ice creams, custards, and jams. As such I figured that it would be a clever way to brew up some of my own almond extract.
I double roasted the pits and the shells in order to eliminate the enzyme, amygdalin which, when it comes into contact with water creates cyanide. I then placed these in a jar with some vodka and planned on letting it sit and brew, hoping for extract.
Still, I was a bit nervous. When flavoring foods with these food stuffs that have cyanide, the amounts that come out are so minuscule it doesn't have the ability to harm you. However, leeching it out for 8 months? That was a bit different, my noyaux extract had a good chance of making me quite sick or being downright lethal.
I threw the batch out because I loaded it up with so many pits that I became a bit nervous. This was about 30 some pits, plus a few shells. I was fine with maybe 10 of 12, as I had eaten about nine of them to no ill effect (I did have a small stomach pang, but I'm well convinced that was psychosomatic and brought on through my own worrying as it went away instantly when I distracted myself reading a book).
It was the next day Elise had e-mailed a chemist friend of hers who sent a different reply. Now, not to put down on Corti, but I gathered a guy with a PhD would probably have a bit more insight into the matter, or at the very least a different one. He wrote the following and provided a variety of insightful links which discuss the human consumption of foods that use noyaux:
The day I try it I'll have poison control on speed dial just to be sure, but I believe Simon has a point. If I use a safe consumable amount I should be fine. Furthermore, if I am only using a teaspoon at a time to flavor an entire dish then the amount ingested is microscopic.