Alexander Tessier’s comment that ‘true bitter almonds are very difficult to come by,’ is so true. I have yet to find bitter almonds locally. So far, all I’ve come across are apricot kernels. His comment that apricot kernels are often referred to as bitter almonds and how not all apricot kernels are bitter as they do come sweet, are all so true, too. (http:/ /apricot-kernels.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/apricot-kernels-which-should-be-used.html)
Because my first several purchases of supposedly bitter almonds, or what was called ‘co-hieng,’ came from an unlabeled jar, I made sure to taste for the bitterness as I remembered it from Mama’s time. That ‘co-hieng’ was, after all, apricot kernels came to fore only when I finally decided to get the whole 3-kilo pack: the package was labeled ‘Apricot Kernels North Skin.’ Though that was welcome information, it was disconcerting to find, when I got back home, how I’d have to bring the pack back to Chinatown as the kernels were not at all bitter – they were sweet!
For some reason, there were no bitter apricot kernels to be had for those 6 months. We scoured the areas where Chinese drugstores abound, from Binondo in Manila and all the way to Greenhills in San Juan, Rizal; they were all sweet. It was late February when a 3-kilo pack became available. Labeled ‘Apricot Kernels Light North Skin,’ it was bitter apricot kernels this time! Did the word ‘light’ make all the difference then? Sent for translation, our local market Chinese retailer said the labeling was Fukien, the 4 characters on the package logo indicated ‘bitter’ and summed up with the info as how apricot kernels is ‘co-hieng’ in Mandarin, and ‘pak-hieng-lin’ in Cantonese.
Although quite satisfied with how bitter my Chinatown kernels were, I nevertheless heeded Tessier’s advice to purchase from two different sources, not for the premised potency, but for a sense of security: that when push came to shove, i had another source I could depend on for a regular supply of bitter apricot kernels. And so I went internet- searching, and happily found ChiTree.com.
What caught my interest was how, with ChiTree, I would be buying from source: a family enterprise dedicated to the quality of their product and service. That they don’t fumigate leaves their apricot kernels had no chemical residues whatsoever, a fact after my own heart’s advocacy! More than that, a new batch of 100% natural Australian grown kernels are cracked weekly, then hand-sorted and packed fresh daily. What more could one ask for?!
When my first order came through, they were, indeed, all that ChiTree had said they would be: their 1st grade whole kernels are larger, come with intact embryo and skin which ensures full nutrient value and optimal shelf-life, with the danger of oxidation nil! Of significant value to me is that their kernels are truly exceptionally bitter, affording me the highest concentration of amygdalin I have come across, so far. And although I found that transit postage added to the cost of the kernels, it still all came out so much less than the cost of my twice a day Laetrile capsules.