Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

noyau the French word for a fruit stone, has also come to mean a liqueur or syrup which is used as a flavouring. This has been well described by Stobart (1980):

Noyau—To good peasants who do not like to waste anything, the kernels of apricots, peaches, plums and cherries present a challenge. Like bitter almonds they contain a glucoside which, when mixed with water (or the saliva in the mouth) is converted by enzymes into a mixture of benzaldehyde and deadly poisonous hydro-cyanic acid. Noyau (from the French noyau, a fruit stone) is a liqueur, cordial and useful flavouring, which consists essentially of a sugar syrup, usually with alcohol, flavoured with macerated kernels or sometimes with peach leaves or bitter almonds, which contain similar principles. Noyau had a reputation for being ‘unwholesome’—naturally so, if there was cyanide in it. However, a quick boil will drive off the volatile poison, leaving only a delicate taste of benzaldehyde behind.