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Sep 25, 2008 12:16 PM

Almond Extract and Nut Allergy

Does anyone know if people who are allergic to nuts (like almonds) also have an allergy to Almond Extract. I am making sugar cookies and the glaze I want to make calls for Almond Extract. Any extraordinary alternative glazes/frostings for sugar cookies without Almond Extract would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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  1. There is almond oil in almond extract. What about making lemon glazed sugar cookies? You could make a lemon simple syrup by boiling lemon slices in sugar water. Then, remove lemon slices, add confectioners sugar to desired consistency. You could also use some finely chopped lemon peel in the simple syrup and leave it in for the glaze, or chop the lemon slices finely after removing and then adding them back in.

    1. If your friend(s) are allergic to nuts, you should avoid all nut-related extracts. You can certainly use any flavoring for sugar cookies, even plain vanilla. Orange extract could also be nice.

      If they're REALLY allergic to nuts, check to make sure your flour isn't processed in a place that processes nuts. It should say so on the package. Good luck!


      1. Depends how allergic they are; allergies are triggered by reaction to proteins (so I'm told by the various scientists in the family). My husband is allergic to nuts, but a little bit of extract, oil, or syrup won't kill him although it may result in canker sores and some swelling around the lips... but peanut anything probably will. Some people have specific reactions to specific nuts like walnuts...

        I recommend not using it if you know the people you're serving it to are allergic. For people with allergies, the taste/smell of the thing alone could trigger a reaction, even though it is not actually ingested.

        1. i have a nut allergy and it's the proteins in the tree nuts which i am allergic to. therefore, real almond extract, which contains the proteins, can cause an allergic reaction. artifical almond extract, containing no real almond proteins, is fine for me to eat. However, avoiding almond extract of all varieties is normally easiest and can cause less worry amongst any allergy guests.

          1. All allergies are immune response to proteins. Extracts are produced via distillation [[much different then oils, which are usually expelled or extruded, and could contain protein contaminates which will cause an allergic response in individuals with allergies]] , so no, extracts, wouldn't contain any proteins, and would not cause any problems for people with allergies.

            9 Replies
            1. re: QuantumJump

              "All allergies are immune response to proteins. "

              That's not true. My daughter is allergic to the urushiol oil in cashews and pistachios. She's also allergic to red dye #40. I wouldn't serve anything with nut extracts to a person with nut allergies.


              "Avoid natural extracts such as pure almond extract, and natural wintergreen extract (for the filbert/hazelnut allergic)."

              And a more comprehensive one:


              1. re: QuantumJump

                Agreed with chowser. This is incorrect and potentially very dangerous. You simply cannot guaranty that an extract made from almonds will not be contaminated by almond proteins, even if it is made purely by distillation; likewise you can't be positive that distillation was the only process used in production. People with nut allergies should avoid almond extract made from real almonds.

                Incidentally, a lot of almond extract isn't made from almonds but from the pits of stone fruit. The chemical benzaldehyde is primarily what gives the characteristic flavor to almond extract, and that chemical can be found in said pits. The interesting thing about this: it's unclear whether even almond extract that is not made from almonds is safe, since it contains so many of the compounds found in almonds, despite containing no actual almonds.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  And, IIRC, the traditional natural base for almond extract is not almond nuts, but the pits of sour cherrys (all are prunus species).

                  1. re: Karl S

                    Yeah. I'm not positive exactly which pits are most used by big manufacturers of 'almond' extract. But I've seen recipes before that use cherry pits in infusions precisely because they have a lot of benzaldehyde and contribute that distinctive almond-y flavor. Heston Blumenthal had a dish that uses them for that purpose, for example.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I suspect it's because cherry pits are normally considered waste/byproducts (unlike almonds) and they contain the same flavors as bitter almonds, so that it is a cheaper source of the extract.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        I'm allergic to almonds and react to almond extract. I can IMMEDIATELY tell if a baked good contains it... And even if cherry pits were use, cherries are in the same Birch family allergy tree as Almonds along with apricot, nectarine, peach, plum, prune, etc. And while I don't react to the flesh of those other friends, it doesn't surprise me that I would reach to the NUT (pit) portion of them.

                        1. re: CasCooks

                          Birch family? Huh? All these fruit trees are in the Rose family (the way you can tell: the classic five-petaled flowers).

                          1. re: Karl S

                            They are all in the Rosid class, though - which I can see could be 'close enough' for the highly sensitive

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Actually the birch family, or scientificall the Betulaceae family, contains both birch and alder pollens. Rosid is actually the clade that the betulaceae family belongs to.