Service berry/Juneberry and cyanide

In spite of the drought (or maybe because of it) this has been a great year for berries at my place. We are just harvesting service berries now and it is a great crop; sweet and plentiful.

One thing I noticed in eating these berries raw, every so often I run into one which has a strong flavor of almond as I eat it. Since almond “flavor” is basically cyanide (they say cyanide gas smells like almonds, but really it is the cyanide in almonds that give them their flavor), I am thinking that these almond flavored berries must have an excess of the cyanide producing compounds in their seeds, or that perhaps they fermented a bit which transformed those compounds in the seed to “almond flavor”/cyanide.

From what I have read, it is the seeds which contain the cyanide producing compounds (cyanogenic
glycosides) but that normally the fruit is free of it. Although the leaves and other plants parts do contain some which varies over the year. And since the cyanide is only produced when the compound interacts with other chemicals, an almond tasting berry must have had something chemically working on its seed.

I am not too concerned about cyanide poisoning here, but I would like to understand what is going on with those almond flavored berries. Anyone have a theory?

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Mine have an almond taste as well and like you my theory was the flavor comes from the seeds but not in harmful amounts
Would love to see pictures of your berries!

I asked the same a while back (Is this juneberry? - #7 by tjasko). The general view was that they’ve been eaten for so long we would know if there were something to worry about.

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Not a lot left to take a pic of, but here you go. These don’t necessarily represent the best, but are what’s left from today’s picking (pretty near the end of the crop now). We’ve got a few in there that probably needed another day to be fully ripe (as you’ll see), but at this point we are getting less picky and are more interested in beating the birds to them.


Look great Steve!