The Cashew Nut

Cashew nuts- ubiquitous with the modern kitchen, is a well loved nut that travels around the globe to grace our palates with its buttery taste and distinct half moon shape. However, many people if asked to pick out a cashew nut in its form in the wild would struggle to tell you what it looks like before it is processed for our enjoyment.

So for the benefit of all those people who are quietly thinking they fit into this group, here’s some information about the cashew nut.

Cashew nuts grow in tropical climates on trees that grow to 16 feet high. During their fruit bearing season, the tree bears numerous fruit that grow to about 3 inches tall. This fruit is known as the cashew apple which is edible. The cashew nut is found on the base of the apple, protected by a hard shell.

The cashew nut in its raw form is inedible and the shell contains an oil which is caustic to the flesh. Thus the process of getting the cashew from fruit to nut is a laborious one. The fruit is picked off the tree when the fruit changes from a green to yellowish red colour. Then the fruit can be harvested and the shell separated from the cashew apple. The cashew nut is covered by a hard shell which must be dried and fired to remove the shell oil. Once this process is completed, it is possible to remove the outer shell to reveal the cashew nut.

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