What do you know about cashews?

I was researching cashews to be able to share with you their benefits. What I found really surprised me.

I asked myself in the past “how do cashews grow?”, but I never really looked into it until today. In my searched I got on a site that was talking about the cashew apples and I got really curious. So I have decided to give you a quick overviews on where cashews come from.

The cashew tree called “Anacardium occidentale”. It is an evergreen tree that only grows in tropical country because it is very sensitive to frost. After its fourth years of growth it produces the cashew nuts and cashew apples. It can grow as high as 46 feet.

Anacardium occidentale tree

The cashew nut is often served as a snack or used in recipes like other nuts, although it is actually a seed. The cashew apple is a fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled into liqueur.

——- Cashew Flowers ———————- Cashew Seeds —————— Cashew Apples

The fruits are harvested carefully when ripe. The seed is removed and dried in the sun. In their raw form, the outer layer of the fruit contains multiple toxins—including anacardic acid, a powerful skin irritant similar to the toxin found in poison ivy—that must be removed prior to eating.

Roasting or steaming the cashews destroys the toxins, but it must be performed carefully because the smoke can irritate the lungs, sometimes to a life-threatening degree. When they are roasted, cashews change from their natural greenish-gray color to the light brown ‘nut’ sold in stores.

With that bit of knowledge, I have just learned that cashews can’t be fully raw, unless they are handled with extreme care (one by one) to remove the outer layer and then soaked in turmeric water to get rid of the left over poison.

Next time you crack open a tin of cashews, take a moment to appreciate the long journey those little c-shaped ‘nuts’ took from the tree to your table!