Does Kluwek Really Contain Cyanide? These are the Responses and Tips from Prof. Nuri Andarwulan

For some Indonesians, they must be familiar with kluwek (Pangium). Usually kluwek is used as a spice for soup dishes such as rawon or konro soup. The term “kluwek” can be different in each region. Some call it kluwek, pangi, kepayang, or any other names.

So, is it true that kluwek contains dangerous cyanide?

For information, kluwek is the seeds of picung fruit that are processed into spices for cooking. In Latin, the picung plant is called Pangium edule. This plant is very similar to a randu tree, with a large tree and hanging fruit with a harvest cycle of about 8-9 months. The fruit contains seeds with an amount of odd number, which is 7-13 seeds per fruit.

Prof. Nuri Andarwulan, Researcher at the Southeast Asian Food and Agriculture Science and Technology (Seafast) Center, Institute for Research and Community Service (LPPM) IPB University said, fresh picung seeds and fruit do contain compounds that contain very high cyanide called cyanogenic glycosides. These compounds easily release cyanide acid when the pulp and seeds are injured. It would be very dangerous to consume the pulp and seeds of the fruit fresh. Therefore, people usually save this fruit until it is rotten and then take the seeds to be processed into kluwek.

"This fruit is indeed poisonous, it can cause death if consumed fresh because it contains cyanide. That is why after harvest, the fruit is usually stored. After that, the seeds are taken and collected to be washed and then boiled,” said the Professor of the Department of Food Science and Technology (ITP), Faculty of Agricultural Technology (Fateta) IPB University.

In order to become kluwek, Prof. Nuri continued, the boiled seeds are drained. Then soaked for 40 days using ashes. The purpose of this process is not only to remove the cyanide content inside the pulp of the picung seeds, but also to get a delicious kluwek flavor as a cooking spice.

It is just that, from this process, it doesn't always work. Prof. Nuri said, processing picung seeds into kluwek could fail. This could be due to the temperature when the kluwek is too low or cold. Kluwek that fails the process usually tastes bitter when tasted.

So, how do you know which kluwek is suitable for consumption as a spice in the kitchen? Prof. Nuri gave tips on choosing a good kluwek in a relatively easy way. First, kluwek can be shaken, much like when choosing an avocado. If when shaken the kluwek seeds are separated from the skin, it can be ascertained that the kluwek seeds are good for use.

"Second, it can also be tasted, whether it is bitter or not. If the bitter taste is gone, kluwek is safe and ready to be combined with cooking. Meanwhile, if the taste is still bitter, that cyanide is probably still there," she explained.

In addition, kluwek which is safe for cooking, said Prof. Nuri, can also be seen from the color when the shell is opened. A good kluwek has a glossy jet black color or a dusky dark red.

However, she advised against choosing kluwek with open shells. Because if this is the case, it can make kluwek smell rancid because it is oxidized by the incoming air because kluwek seeds contain very high oil.

"Kluwek which is not suitable for consumption, if forced to become a spice, it can ruin the taste of the food. We will not get that delicious and distinctive kluwek taste,” she explained. (IAAS/IRN)

Published Date : 22-Apr-2021

Resource Person : Prof Nuri Andarwulan

Keyword : Kluwek, Cyanide, IPB University, Seafast Center