Cashew (Anacardium WESTERN L.) is a tropical fruit tree originating in Brazil (Amazon). The Portuguese introduced it to India in the 16th century and today India and East Africa are the main producers.
It belongs to the Anacardiaceae family, and has a characteristic form of fruiting.
In fact, lanacardio provides at the same time two types of fruit intimately united: a fresh one, the danacardio apple (called in Brazil cashew apple), and a dry one, the almond or hazelnut cashew (called in Brazil cashew nut or cashew almond).
The danacardio apple is, botanically, a false fruit as it results from a hypertrophy of the flower penduncle which reaches the size of a more or less pyriform apple.
It has a smooth, thin and fragile surface, yellow to bright red in color, and with a pulpy but fibrous mass. The almond or hazelnut (the real fruit) and a kidney-shaped nut provided with a hard pericarp, containing an oily and edible seed.
Cashew fruit - English name Cashew (photo www.nybg.org)
Cashew seeds (website photo)
The cashew tree is a tropical tree that tolerates temperatures between 5 ° and 45 ° C. It produces on average 15-30 kilograms per year.
In the producing countries instead of the seed, the fruit is eaten (false fruit). In Brazil, during the seasonal production period from November to January, a juice is extracted from the fruit, which has a sour and refreshing taste, which is drunk after being slightly fermented. The cashew plant is of considerable economic interest for the many uses, in addition to food, which are made of all its parts: an indelible ink is extracted from the shell, the juice has a highly appreciated anti-termite power, from the fruit alcohol and vinegar are obtained and, after pressure, a precious oil, from the plant are obtained a rubber and a milky liquid which are used as bases for the paints. The juice, blackish in color, is resinous and extremely caustic, and is used in medicine.
The seed contains an irritating oil which must be eliminated with heat before the seed can be extracted with great care to avoid contaminating it. Turning cashews into edible walnut is a complicated procedure and requires a lot of manpower. Only 10% of the raw production passes unscathed through the various stages of processing and packaging. This explains the very high price of cashews on the European market. Lanacardio in shell is toasted in order to prepare it for breaking the shell itself, mostly done by hand. The fruit is scalded again to facilitate the removal of the light dark film that covers it. Lanacardio is a fruit that tends to go rancid very easily, so to keep it well, it is necessary to limit contact with the air.