What is Cashew?

The cashew tree, which is native to South America and belongs to the Anacardium genus, produces both the cashew seed and the cashew apple fruit. The cashew seed, a versatile and popular snack nut, can be eaten on its own, used in various recipes, or turned into cashew cheese or butter. The cashew apple, a light-colored fruit, can be used to create a sweet and tangy drink or distilled into liquor. The largest cashew tree in the world is located in Natal, Brazil, and covers an area of 7,500 square meters.

Although originally from Brazil, cashews are now widely cultivated in tropical regions worldwide, such as India, Vietnam, and Nigeria. With their buttery flavor and crunchy texture, cashews have become a favorite ingredient in many recipes, and their popularity has led to them being consumed globally.

Cashews are also a nutrient-packed food source, being an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, and dietary fiber. They are rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as copper, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are vital for maintaining healthy bones, nerve function, and the immune system.

However, it is important to note that cashews are high in calories, and it is essential to consume them in moderation, especially if you are attempting to manage your weight. Additionally, individuals who have never consumed cashews before may be allergic to them and should exercise caution. Cashews can be a healthy and delicious addition to your diet, provided they are consumed in moderation and do not cause allergies.

Cashew Production in the World

Côte d'Ivoire is the top country producing Cashews in the world. In 2021/22 Côte d'Ivoire produced 837,850 tonnes of Cashew. India is the world's second-largest Cashew producer, with 738,000 tonnes, and first in acreage(1,989,861). In terms of Cashew yield, the Philippines is the most productive country on the planet with 86,317. Viet Nam, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania are the top three leading countries with '399,308', '255,931', '210,786', and '170,462' tonnes respectively. Malawi has the lowest Production of Cashew in the world with only 214 tonnes in 2021/22.

Top 10 countries by Cashew Production in 2021

Top Countries by Production of Cashew in 2021/22

Rank Country production(Tonnes) acreage(Hectare) Yield
1Côte d'Ivoire837,8501,989,8614,211
3Viet Nam399,308294,90113,540
5The United Republic of Tanzania210,786712,6242,958
8Burkina Faso137,722121,88511,299
18Sri Lanka10,33514,6197,069
30El Salvador1,0771,3617,916
31Dominican Republic6718,700771

Cultivation of Cashew

Cashew cultivation is the process of growing and harvesting cashew trees for their nuts, which are consumed as a snack or used in various culinary preparations.

Here are the steps involved in cashew cultivation:

  1. Site selection: Cashew trees thrive in well-drained soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. The site should also receive plenty of sunlight and be protected from strong winds.
  2. Propagation: Cashew trees are usually propagated through grafting or budding, which involves taking a stem or bud from a mature cashew tree and grafting it onto a young seedling.
  3. Planting: Once the seedlings are ready, they can be planted at the selected site. The spacing between the trees should be around 7-10 meters.
  4. Maintenance: Cashew trees require regular maintenance such as pruning to remove dead or diseased branches, fertilization, and weed control. Proper irrigation is also essential, especially during the dry season.
  5. Harvesting: Cashew trees start producing fruit in their third or fourth year. The nuts are harvested when they are fully ripe and have fallen from the tree. The outer shell is removed, and the nuts are then dried in the sun before they are processed further.
  6. Processing: After the drying process, the nuts are roasted to remove the inner shell. The kernels are then graded and packaged for sale.

Cashew cultivation can be a profitable venture, but it requires careful planning, investment, and hard work. Proper management practices and disease control are also critical to ensure a successful harvest.

Health Benefits of Cashew

Cashews are delicious and nutritious nuts that offer a range of health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of cashews:

  1. Good for heart health: Cashews are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  2. Promotes healthy bones: Cashews are a source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium - minerals that are vital for developing and sustaining sturdy bones.
  3. Boosts immunity: Cashews are rich in zinc, which is an essential mineral that helps to boost the immune system and fight off infections.
  4. Improves brain function: Rich in magnesium, cashews play a vital role in brain function and may enhance memory and cognitive abilities.
  5. Aids in weight loss: Cashews are a good source of protein and fiber, which can help to keep you feeling full for longer and prevent overeating.
  6. Good for skin and hair: Copper, an essential mineral found in cashews, supports the production of melanin - the pigment responsible for the color of skin and hair - and aids in the production of collagen, which is crucial for maintaining healthy skin.

Overall, cashews are a nutritious and delicious nut that can provide a range of health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Nutritional Information of Cashew

Here are the approximate nutrition values for 100 grams of raw cashew nuts:

  • Calories: 553 kcal
  • Fat: 43.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.2 g
  • Protein: 18.2 g
  • Fiber: 3.3 g
  • Sugars: 5.9 g
  • Calcium: 37 mg
  • Iron: 6.7 mg
  • Magnesium: 292 mg
  • Phosphorus: 593 mg
  • Potassium: 660 mg
  • Sodium: 12 mg
  • Zinc: 5.8 mg
  • Vitamin C: 0.5 mg
  • Thiamin (B1): 0.4 mg
  • Riboflavin (B2): 0.1 mg
  • Niacin (B3): 1.0 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg
  • Folate (B9): 25 µg
  • Vitamin E: 0.9 mg

Note that these values can vary depending on factors such as processing, cooking, and storage.

Structure of Cashew

The cashew tree is a large, evergreen species that can reach a height of 14 meters, with a trunk that is typically short and irregular in shape. The leaves are arranged in a spiral pattern, are leathery in texture, and have an elliptical to obovate shape, measuring between 4-22 centimeters long and 2-15 centimeters wide. The flowers of the cashew tree are produced in clusters or groups, measuring up to 26 centimeters long; each flower is small, pale green initially, and then turns red, with five thin, sharp petals measuring 7-15 millimeters long.

Cashew nuts are the edible seeds of the cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale). The cashew nut has a distinct kidney or crescent shape with a curved bottom and a pointed tip at the top. The cashew nut is composed of three distinct parts: the outer shell, the kernel, and the skin.

  1. Outer Shell: The outer shell of the cashew nut is a hard, thick, and brownish-gray shell that protects the delicate kernel inside. The outer shell contains a caustic oil called urushiol that can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in some people.
  2. Kernel: The kernel is the edible part of the cashew nut that we eat. It is a white, kidney-shaped, slightly curved piece that is creamy and crunchy. The kernel is rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
  3. Skin: Cherries are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, including cherry fruit flies, brown rot, and powdery mildew. Monitor your trees regularly and treat any problems promptly with appropriate controls.

Overall, the cashew nut is a highly nutritious and delicious nut that is enjoyed all around the world.

Taxonomy in Cashew

Allergies to cashews are caused by the proteins found in tree nuts, and cooking does not eliminate or alter these proteins. The cashew seed is encased in a double shell that contains a phenolic resin called anacardic acid, which is a strong irritant to the skin and chemically similar to the toxic allergenic oil urushiol found in poison ivy and lacquer trees. The cashew nut shell contains oil compounds that can cause a skin reaction similar to poison ivy, primarily due to the presence of phenolic lipids, anacardic acid, and cardanol.

Types of Cashew

There is only one type of cashew nut, but there are different varieties of cashew trees. The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Brazil but now grows in many parts of the world with a tropical climates.

However, the cashew nut is often processed and sold in different forms, such as:

  1. Raw cashews: These are unroasted and unsalted cashews that can be eaten as a snack or used in recipes.
  2. Roasted cashews: These are raw cashews that have been roasted and salted, which makes them a popular snack food.
  3. Cashew butter: This is a spread made from ground cashews that can be used as a substitute for peanut butter or other nut butter.
  4. Cashew milk: This is a non-dairy milk made from ground cashews that can be used as a substitute for cow's milk in recipes or as a beverage.
  5. Cashew cheese: This is a dairy-free cheese made from cashews that can be used in vegan and dairy-free recipes.

In addition to these, there are also different types of cashew products available, such as cashew oil, cashew flour, and cashew pieces, which are used in various recipes and products.

Uses of Cashew

Cashews have a wide range of uses, both culinary and non-culinary. Here are some of the most common uses of cashews:

  1. Culinary uses: Cashews are a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. They can be eaten raw or roasted and used as a topping or garnish for salads, soups, and stews. They are also commonly used in Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese curries and stir-fries. Cashews can also be ground into a paste and used as a base for creamy sauces or dips.
  2. Snacks: Cashews can be eaten as a snack on their own, either roasted or raw. They are also commonly used in trail mixes, granola bars, and other snack foods.
  3. Vegan dairy alternatives: Cashews can be soaked and blended to create a creamy, dairy-free alternative to milk, cream, or cheese. Cashew milk is a popular plant-based milk alternative.
  4. Baking: Cashews can be ground into a fine powder and used as a flour substitute in gluten-free baking. They can also be used to make nut butter and added to cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.
  5. Non-culinary uses: Cashews have also been used in non-culinary applications. The shell of the cashew nut contains an oil that is used in the production of brake linings, varnishes, and other industrial products. The cashew apple, which is the fleshy fruit that surrounds the nut, can be used to make jams, jellies, and other fruit preserves. Additionally, the bark and leaves of the cashew tree have been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

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