Cashew Trees Love Tropical Weather
Did you know that cashew trees grow near beaches? They can’t stand cold weather, and wouldn’t survive a frost, so they only grow in warm climates. They thrive in tropical climates with plenty of rain and humidity. A happy cashew tree can grow to be 30 feet tall! It is an evergreen perennial, with low hanging, wide-spreading branches. In other words, it would make a great climbing tree! Cashews, pistachios, mangoes, and poison ivy are all in the same family! Who says family members have to look alike?!
Cashews Are Actually Seeds
A cashew ‘nut’ is actually the seed of the cashew fruit. The cashew fruit hangs from a ‘false’ cashew fruit called a cashew apple. The cashew apple is flashier than the true cashew fruit. It is much larger, and more colorful than the true cashew fruit. The cashew apple is a delicious, juicy, pear-shaped fruit, with red or yellow skin. It has several culinary uses in its native countries, but because the skin of this fruit is very delicate, it can’t be exported. This is why some of us have never seen a cashew apple before! 🙂
So the TRUE fruit of the cashew tree hangs from the cashew apple! (check out this blog for a great photo!) Inside the ‘true’ cashew fruit is the cashew seed, which we commonly refer to as a cashew nut. The seed is surrounded by a double-layered shell. Between the two shell’s layers there is a substance that produces a severe rash if it comes into contact with skin. So if someone offers you a cashew in its shell, RUN! Well, not really. But you definitely wouldn’t want to crack the shell yourself! Leave it to the professionals!
Cashews Are World Travelers
You say ‘acaju’; I say ‘cashew’. Cashew trees are native to Brazil, and were originally cultivated by the Tupi Indians who called them ‘acaju’. Kinda sounds like ‘cashew’ doesn’t it! They were discovered by Portugese explorers and introduced the fruit to India and Africa in the sixteenth century. Cashews’ popularity quickly spread, until it became a world-renown nut (not that one would necessarily aspire to such a title)! Cashews are now part of the culinary cuisines of many cultures around the world!
Cashews’ Medicinal Uses
The leaves and bark of the tree, as well as the gum of the cashew apple are used medicinally in India and some African countries.
Cashews Are Steam-Pasteurized, But It’s Cool
Sometimes, truly raw is truly poisonous! Eating a truly raw cashew would cause a severe allergic reaction at best, and a fatal reaction at worst. Because of the toxic substance between its outer shells, cashews must be steamed in order to safely remove the seed (nut) from the shell. So the ‘raw’ cashews we eat are raw in the sense that they aren’t roasted, however they have been steamed during processing. But we don’t mind!
Now let’s make some cashew milk out of those raw, steamed, cashew seeds!
First, soak 1 cup of raw, organic cashews in water overnight in the fridge.
Drain water and rinse cashews.
Place cashews in blender along with 4 cups distilled or purified water (I use boiled, cooled water). Blend on high for a few minutes, until very smooth.
Strain cashew milk, using a nut milk bag of a coffee filter.
Set aside the cashew pulp and save to make cashew yogurt, ricotta cheese, or add it to smoothies!
Cashews, Swathy Enterprises
History of Cashewnut, Achal, Cashew.com
- White Chocolate Cherry Cashew Ice Cream (chicorganicmama.com)
- How To Make Almond Milk And Some Fun Facts About Almonds (chicorganicmama.com)