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Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

The apricot (Prunus armeniaca), also called apricot in Austria and Bavaria, grows in tree or shrub form. The yellow to orange fruits have a smooth, almost hairless surface. If the wrinkled stone of the apricot, which is pointed on one side, is cracked, the seed ("kernel") inside is revealed. It is about the size of a thumbnail and contains a lot of oil. As with almonds, there is a bitter and a sweet form. Valuable apricot kernel oil is obtained from both varieties.

Origin and cultivation

The natural home of the apricot is in northeastern China, already 3,000 years ago it was cultivated in Armenia and India, among other places. With the campaigns of Alexander the Great, the apricot is said to have reached the Mediterranean, where it conquered the Roman cuisine. The apricot tree likes it very warm and tolerates drought, at the same time it is insensitive to winter cold. Apricots from growing areas such as Turkey and Hungary usually belong to the sweet variety and are intended for cooking. Apricot kernel oil for cosmetic applications, on the other hand, comes from wild apricots with bitter kernels.


In terms of fragrance and composition, apricot kernel oil is similar to almond oil, vitamins E and B make it particularly high quality. Essential unsaturated fatty acids are present in high concentration, they nourish and repair damaged skin and make it velvety soft. Like all stone fruit seeds - cherries, almonds, peaches, etc. - apricot kernels contain the substance amygdalin (vitamin B17). It can release prussic acid and is responsible for the bitter almond aroma. The sweet variety contains little amygdalin, while the bitter apricot kernels contain even more amygdalin than bitter almonds.

Use of apricot kernel oil

Apricot kernel oilApricot kernel oil
  • In cosmetics, oil from bitter apricot kernels is used, from which undesirable accompanying substances, such as amygdalin, have been removed by refining. Applied externally, apricot kernel oil supports the moisture balance of the skin and helps to soothe it in case of sunburn
  • Because it is very light and also does not "creep", apricot kernel oil is suitable for the care of the skin around the eyes
  • In cooking, the unrefined oil from sweet apricot kernels is used, which is naturally low in amygdalin and has an intense aroma. Apricot kernel oil is not suitable for baking and frying, as it begins to smoke even at relatively low temperatures.
This is what you should pay attention to when using apricot kernels.

Even though bitter apricot kernels are supposed to work wonders - please note that the same applies to them as to bitter almonds: The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) advises adult consumers not to eat more than two bitter apricot kernels per day due to the high amygdalin content. Sweet apricot kernels, on the other hand, are safe.

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