Take this as a friendly reminder to watch out for how much strawberry rhubarb pie you’re about to eat this summer. Why? Because rhubarb leaves, which aren’t supposed to be used in baking or cooking at all, contain oxalic acid, which can cause kidney stones. It only takes 11 pounds of leaves to kill you, but way less than that in a pie to make you sick.
Elderberries are famously used in jams, wines, and teas. All of this is very surprising, given that their seeds and leaves contain high levels of the fatal cyanide-producing glycoside. If the fruit isn’t strained properly or is too unripe, you should avoid using it, because it can cause severe nausea and even coma, or death.
You only need a cup of incorrectly prepped elderberry juice, wine, or even tea, to feel sick, but you would have to drink up to five glasses to be in danger.
You might not know the word cassava, but you definitely know it by another name, and that is tapioca, especially if you’re a fan of boba or bubble tea. This is a root veggie that’s been cultivated in South America, and it can be quite delicious when it’s made correctly.
If it’s prepared the wrong way or eaten raw, cassava has this funny tendency (not funny ha-ha, but scary funny) to turn into hydrogen cyanide. There are two types of cassava, sweet and bitter. The sweet version is 50 times less deadly.
The pits of cherries, just like plums, peaches, and apricots, have compounds that our bodies can turn into cyanide. These other fruits happen to have larger pits, which makes them harder to be swallowed. Luckily, unless you crack open a cherry pot, which can be hard enough, it’s highly unlikely for you to get sick.
This fruit comes from Jamaica and is the favorite fruit of the island. Even so, it can be one of the world’s deadliest foods, if it isn’t prepped correctly. First and foremost, the yellow parts of the ackee should be eaten, and the yellow bits have to be cooked just right in order to be edible.
What’s the most important thing about preparing ackee is timing. Eating even a small bite of fruit when it’s too ripe or not ripe enough can easily turn into “Jamaican vomiting sickness”.