The flavorings can potentially make this liqueur toxic, as peach and cherry kernels contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide (about 1.7 mg per gram of kernel), as do bitter almonds (2.5 mg/g)..
Other less toxic flavorings can also be used, such as in-season fruit, vegetables, and fresh herbs. A basic recipe includes a bottle of red or white wine, 1/4 cup vodka (to prevent fermentation), 1 cup cut-up fruits, vegetables, or herbs, 1/4 cup sugar. Combine all ingredients in a large jar and refrigerate 3 to 4 weeks; strain into a clean wine bottle and cork or cap tightly. Keep refrigerated. The name 'ratafia' might be adapted from the French of the 17th century. Walter William Skeat (Etym. Dict., 1910) quotes as a possible origin a combination of Malay araq, and tafia (rum).