Cashews, the edible nuts, which are widely preferred for their distinct nutty flavor, are consumed world over as snack food or used as ingredients in confectioneries, savories and other food substances. These nuts, largely grown in India, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam and almost most of the African countries, of which Cote d’ivoire (IVC) being the world top producer of raw nuts. Cashews are widely consumed in North America and in the European Union and in countries like India and China. The cashew kernels before reaching the consumer’s hands undergo a number of processes, whereby they are brought into the consumable form.
Some simple facts about the nut
The cashew nut, the third widely consumed edible tree nut, often thought to be a seed is actually a single seeded fruit of a tropical evergreen tree (Anacardium occidentale), belonging to the family of Anacardiaceae. This fruit develops over or dangles from a sweet tasting false fruit, which is of red or yellow color depending on the variety and is used in the preparation of jams and jellies and for table purpose in some of the Latin American countries and in West Indies. In many parts of India, only the edible nut is used and the false fruit is often not effectively used. However, in the Indian state of Goa, it is used as Feni. Feni is Indian liquor made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple. Feni is also Goa’s first Geographical Indication (GI) product and it is also the first liquor in the country to obtain the GI status.
The kidney shaped edible nuts are called kernels and are obtained from the fruit or the raw nut after removal of the outer leathery covering which surrounds it, using different processing methods. The leathery cover contains an oily substance called the Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL), a byproduct that though poses problem while processing (as it is harmful if it comes in contact with the skin of the person who is involved in the extraction process) has a vast array of industrial uses. The amount of CNSL that can be extracted from a nut varies largely depending on the method of processing used for extraction of the kernels. Currently, India is the world leader in CNSL production.