Today is National Cashew Day and I do love to nosh on these delicious nuts. As I started this post I idly wondered why I have never seen cashews in the shell, as I have seen every other kind of nut. Boy did that send me down a rabbit hole.
Cashews are technically a seed of the cashew tree, a tropical plant, which produces a cashew apple and one seed below. Like this:
The cashew apple can be eaten whole, cooked in curries or made into preserves and chutneys. It has pulp that can be processed into a sweet astringent fruit juice or distilled into liquor. The seed pod below it has the cashew nut surrounded by a shell, like this:
The shell of the cashew contains compounds that can cause symptoms similar to poison ivy, which is likely why we don’t see encased cashews for sale to the public. The shells themselves can be processed into compounds used for paints and lubricants. Here is a rather medieval device to shell the nuts, though I am sure mechanized devices produce most of the harvest:
From there the nuts can be roasted or prepared for consumption. I love them salted but you can include them in a number of dishes and cuisines or just take the easy way out and throw them in some fudge like this:
Sorry for the longer than usual post but I went nuts learning about the cashew. Sorry for the cornball joke. Sorry for the many apologies. Enjoy a cashew.
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