The Cashew Tree is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the Cashew Nut and the Cashew Apple, but it is frost-sensitive. It can grow as high as 46ft, but the dwarf cashew has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields.
The flower of the Cashew Tree is small and green initially, but it gradually turns a reddish colour. The tree is native to the Brazil’s Amazon Rain Forest. It was brought over from Brazil by Portuguese explorers and today Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of the Cashew Nut.
The Cashew Nut can be eaten on its own raw, salted, sweetened or candied, used in recipes, or processed into Cashew Cheese or Cashew Butter. The shell of the Cashew Seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications from lubricants to paints.
Cashew Nuts are commonly used in Indian cuisine, whole for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries or some sweets. Cashew Nuts are also used in Thai and Chinese cuisines.
The shell of the Cashew Nut contains oil compounds which may cause contact dermatitis similar in severity to that of poison ivy. Due to this, Cashews are typically not sold in the shell.
Cashew Nuts are high in calories, but have a low fat content and they are a good source of protein and dietary fibre. They also contain many other important minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, iron potassium and zinc and vitamins B and K. Cashew Nuts contain a small amount of zeaxanthin, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes is thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV ray filtering functions and helps prevent age-related macular degeneration in older adults. To lower the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, enjoy a handful of Cashews or a tablespoon of nut butter at least 4 times a week.
Cashew Oil is a dark yellow oil for cooking or a salad dressing pressed from Cashew Nuts (typically broken chunks created during processing).