Cashews & Poison Ivy and what they have in common.


I think somewhere in my life, I have read about how we get cashews.  The thing that puzzles me is why I didn’t remember this information.  Seriously, this weird nut grows on the bottom of a “cashew apple.”  How can you forget something so bizarre?

The apple portion is actually an accessory fruit and the nut hangs beneath the apple. Even weirder, the nut isn’t actually a nut in a botanical sense, it’s actually a seed.

The red and yellow apples can be eaten but they are very delicate and do not ship well. They are made into juices, jams and liqueur.

Cashew Apple with Roasted Nuts

Cashews after roasting – © Getty Images

It gets even weirder.  the Cashew is kin to poison ivy/oak! This nut-seed is surrounded by several toxins.  This toxin is anacardic acid which causes a skin rash on contact.

This is why you can’t purchase raw cashews.  The packaging may say raw but the strong skin irritants have to be removed by soaking and high temperature roasting before the kernel can be extracted. Roasting the shell also loosens the nut and makes its removal easier. The extracted kernel is then dried at around 70°C (158°F) for six hours before packaging (source, PDF file)

I ran across this fun but information blog post about someone visiting Brazil who bit into a cashew seed from the fruit.  Here is a little snippet:

 I stuck the nut in the corner of my mouth to get a good grip on it and bit down.  Hmmmm, that tastes very odd.  Wow that tastes really bad!  A bitter taste spreads through the side of my mouth.  My teeth and inside of my cheek become sticky.  The corner of my lips start burning.  I ran to get some water to try and stop the burning and it didn’t work.  Next stop, the Internet!

You can read the entire post by Matthew Evens HERE.

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