Cashew Nut Properties
There are several dozen nuts in the world, and not all of them are edible. Among those representatives of the group whose fruits can and should be eaten, one of the most popular, after walnuts, hazelnuts and peanuts, is cashew. This amazing tropical plant will be discussed.
How Cashew Tree grows
Cashew, also known as Indian nut, grows on a tree belonging to the Sumakhov family, genus Anacardium (from the Greek "kardia", that is, the heart, however, the analogy in this case does not mean so much benefit to the cardiovascular system as a nut form. The shape is a bit like a small heart, however, some are more likely to associate this fruit with a boxing glove), the species is Anacardium occidentale. The closest relatives of cashews, also included in the Anacardium group, are pistachios, as well as mangoes that are familiar to everyone.
From a botanical point of view, the Western Anacardium is an evergreen tree-like plant, which in its homeland (in the tropics) can reach 30 m in height and form a wide, dense and sprawling crown up to 10 and more m in diameter, with the lower part of this crown beginning almost at the earth itself. The leaves are dark green, leathery, large. The shape of the leaf plate is oval, sometimes tapering in the upper part, the edges are solid, without nicks. Life expectancy is 100 years.
Cashew cannot grow in a temperate climate zone; therefore, it is grown here only in greenhouses or as an indoor flower. In the latter case, the plant, of course, will not look as powerful as in the wild, but with good care you can achieve its growth to 10-12 m.
Did you know? The Russian name for the tree and its fruits comes from the Portuguese cajueiro ("caseiro" - the plant itself and "casu" - nut). The Portuguese, in turn, borrowed the name of the product from the Tupi Indians, from which it literally meant "fruit consisting of fibers."
Cashew flowers are not too decorative. Small in size (8–15 mm), pale green, sometimes with a pinkish tinge, the colors are repetitive with five thin, pointed at the ends of the petals, together collected in one inflorescence in the form of a long panicle (up to 250 mm). Blossoming of flowers occurs in turn, which is why flowering stretches for several weeks.
The most interesting part of the cashew tree is the fruit. At first glance, it seems that such a fruit is a small pear-shaped formation of yellow or pink color with loose pulp and glossy skin, in the lower part of which there is an unusual “appendix” in the form of the letter “C”.
In reality, this “pear” is an overgrown stalk, and the cashew fruit is the same growth that is located below. It was the stalk of the Western Anacardium that the blunts received from the Indians, and after them, the Portuguese call it “kazu” (or “apple kazu”). In fact, this juicy part of a tree with sour astringent pulp can really be eaten than the natives living in the tropics use well, and local housewives use it as raw materials for making juices, jams, sauces and all kinds of seasonings.
Did you know? One of the hallmarks of the popular Indian resort of Goa is the Fenny alcoholic drink. For its preparation, coconut juice or the stalk of a cashew tree is used as raw material, which is fermented and then distilled up to three times.
Eating “kazhu” is very convenient: since this part of the tree is not a fruit, its pulp inside is absolutely homogeneous, there are no seeds or seeds in it.Nevertheless, it is possible to try cashew pseudo-fruit (stem) only in its homeland: the shelf life of this product does not exceed 24 hours after harvesting, and therefore it is not suitable for transportation and export.
The cashew kernel has a small size comparable to a medium bean. The average weight of the peeled nut is not more than 1.5 g. The shape of the kernel is similar to a banana. A high-quality product is distinguished by a gentle and uniform light beige color, a dry surface without an oily coating and an almost complete absence of a pronounced smell.
However, in order to get to the cashew kernel, you must first deal with the shell. Like walnut, cashew has two kinds of shell. From the outside, the fruit is covered with a smooth green peel, and already under it is the actual shell - dense and textured, similar to a honeycomb.
How to collect nuts from a cashew tree
Collecting Indian nuts, it would seem, is not difficult. The peduncle is removed from the tree in the same way as the usual pear or apple, and the fruit is easily separated from the juicy pulp. But then the most unusual begins. Cashew is almost the only nut in the world that is sold only in peeled form.
Important! Between the two protective coatings covering the nut is a toxic compound containing anacardic acid (90%) and an oily substance from a number of phenols - cardol (10%). Getting on the skin, such a substance can cause severe irritation, so the collection and cleaning of cashews from Aboriginal people is considered a dangerous job that requires the use of special protective equipment.
Since cashews are far from being cultivated in the most developed countries, the labor protection process at such industries is rarely at a high level. Workers do not always use a protective mask and rubber gloves, and not everywhere. In India, for example, this work is usually done by women and even minor girls, working with their bare hands to increase production (it’s not convenient to chop nuts with gloves). The only “protection” used is ordinary vegetable oil.
From time to time, lubricating hands with such a substance, workers partially protect the skin from burns, but increase the likelihood of cuts and other more serious injuries from working with slippery hands with a sharp object for chopping nuts.
And the payment for such hard and dangerous work is really scanty: in the equivalent it is only 3–3.5 dollars per shift, without any social guarantees - sick leave, vacation pay and even a pension. Despite such inhuman conditions, according to official figures in India, at least half a million people are engaged in cleaning and cashew cleaning.
For safety reasons, they are fried before cleaning, and after removing the shell, the kernels are repeatedly subjected to short-term high-temperature treatment in order to completely get rid of volatile caustic substances present in the shell. But this does not mean at all that this part of the fetus itself is subsequently destroyed.
The cashew shell and the upper cashew shell are widely used in industry. In the tropics, the cashew shell is widely used to control termites and other pests.
In particular, from products obtained after special processing and distillation of this raw material, they produce:
- brake pads for cars;
- pesticides for the treatment of agricultural plants (fungicidal group);
- phenylamine, which, in turn, acts as a bonding, modifying and water-repellent component in the construction of ships, as well as in the production of rubber, drying oil, varnishes, etc.
Cashew Country of Origin
Despite the fact that cashew nuts are often called Indian nuts, their “historical homeland” is mainly Brazil, and to be more precise, the eastern part of this country. It is believed that it was from here that Anacardium occidentale spread to other countries with a hot tropical climate suitable for an evergreen tree.
Most likely, the Portuguese conquistadors contributed mainly to this process, and it should be noted that the Indians living in Brazil strongly resisted attacks on the plant, which they considered their property. This confrontation in history is known as the "Akaya Wars."
In the middle of the XVII century, the manager of Dutch lands in Brazil, Prince Johann Moritz Nassau of Siegensky, even imposed a special fine for a felled tree of Indian walnut, which was the main source of food for Aboriginal people. Nevertheless, thanks to the Portuguese conquerors, Anacardium occidentale was first brought to India, then to Africa, and from there to a number of Asian countries.
Cashew grows countries
Today, Indian nut is cultivated in 32 states. According to official figures, more than 3.5 million hectares of agricultural land are occupied under this crop in the world, from which almost 3 million tons of nuts are annually removed.
List of Cashew Exporting Countries:
|State||Average annual cashew production, thousand tons|
|Socialist Republic of Vietnam||950–1200|
|Federal Republic of Nigeria||580–720|
|Republic of Côte d'Ivoire||250–300|
|Republic of Indonesia||140–240|
|Republic of the Philippines||100–110|
|United Republic of Tanzania||70–100|
|Republic of Mozambique||60–100|
In smaller quantities, Indian states also produce and export the following states:
Growing at home
Growing Anacardium occidentale at home is not so difficult. However, for this you need to acquire planting material, that is, in fact, a nut. Products sold in food departments are not suitable for this purpose, because, as mentioned above, such nuts, firstly, are always peeled, secondly, underwent intensive heat treatment, in other words, as seed material is not viable. Therefore, for planting, you can use the fruit, either brought independently from tropical countries, or purchased in a flower shop.
Did you know? The largest nut in the world can be seen in the Seychelles. The fruits of the local coco de mer palms in girth can reach one meter, and a similar giant weighs up to 25 kg.
The main requirements that the Indian nut makes for the growing conditions are as follows:
|The soil||Light, nutritious, well-drained|
|Humidity||High - regular watering as the topsoil dries up, periodic spraying, it is also advisable to install a container of water near the flowerpot for additional humidification|
|Top dressing||Standard, as with other indoor plants|
|Optimum temperature||+ 23 ... + 28 ° С|
|Pruning||At the growth stage, regular, to give the crown the desired decorative shape|
In order for the tree to grow better, it is recommended that it provide an alternation of the resting and vegetation phases. For this purpose, immediately after flowering, the pot is transferred to a cooler and shaded place, feeding is completely stopped, and watering is minimized. After some time, when the flower throws out the first young shoot, it is returned to the standard conditions of care.
The main use of cashews lies in the plane of cooking. This delicious nut is loved by both ordinary housewives and chefs of the most prestigious restaurants in the world. With this ingredient, various snacks and salads are prepared, as well as pastries and other desserts. The beneficial properties of the nut are preserved after frying, and the taste and aroma reveal even more.
But raw cashews are often used for additives in cocktails to give them an original “milky” note. People with lactose intolerance sometimes use raw Indian nuts as a substitute for milk and dairy products.
Another area for using cashews is nutritious breakfasts. Like any nuts, the peeled fruits of Anacardium occidentale are perfectly combined with honey, cereals, dried fruits, yogurts, cottage cheese. In addition, due to its high nutritional value and calorie content, such a product is perfect as a light snack during the day. To do this, it can be used as an independent dish in raw or fried form.
A more sophisticated way to cook cashews is to make peanut butter. This product is found in two forms - pasty (such an oil is called butter) and liquid. Batter in appearance resembles a cream, and tastes like peanut.
A truly useful butter is made from raw or slightly dried kernels without the addition of sugar or any other additional ingredients. Such oil, however, can be stored for no more than six months, but it is a source of many valuable substances and, with moderate use, does not cause a negative reaction.
Cashew oil can be eaten separately from other products, spread on bread, added to salads as a dressing or used to make cakes, complex sauces and other culinary masterpieces. In liquid form, cashew oil is used mainly in cosmetology, especially for massages. Sometimes it is used to make face masks, hair rinses, lotions and other cosmetic products.
Important! According to the content of B vitamins, cashew is the champion among all nuts.
The chemical composition of cashews
Cashew is the source of many elements useful to the human body - vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
The composition of the Indian nut:
|Vitamins||B1, B2, B4, B5, B6, B9, C, E, H, K, PP|
|Minerals||K, Ca, Si, Mg, Na, Ph, Cl, Fe, I, Co, Mn, Cu, Mo, Se, F, Cr, Zn, Al, B, Zr, Sr, Ti, V, Li, Ni, Rb|
|Essential Amino Acids||Aspartic and glutamine, cysteine, alanine, tyrosine, hydroxyproline, glycine, proline, serine, etc.|
|Essential Amino Acids||Valine, arginine, isoleucine, histidine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, tryptophan, threonine, etc.|
|Unsaturated fatty acids||Arachinic, caprylic, margarine, lauric, pentadecanoic, palmitic, capricic, lignoceric myristic, stearic, behenic|
|Monounsaturated Fatty Acids||Palmitoleic, oleic, gadoleic|
|Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids||Linoleic, linolenic|
|Phytosterols||Stigmasterol, Campesterol, Beta Sitosterol|
|Alkaloids||Theobromine, caffeine, etc.|
Cashew calories are not much different from most types of nuts that are familiar to us. 100 g of product contains about 633 kcal, which is comparable to that of pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts. Nutritional value (BJU): 18.5 g of protein, 49 g of fat and 23 g of carbohydrates.
The benefits and harms of nuts
- The benefits of Indian walnut are determined by its chemical composition:
- The high content in the nuclei of B vitamins provides stimulation of brain activity, improvement of all metabolic processes in the body.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids are an indispensable element for strengthening immunity, normalizing hormonal balance, eliminating harmful substances, as well as stimulating the work of the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
- Flavonoids (including phytosterols) are the strongest natural antioxidants.
- Phosphorus and magnesium are very important for mental and nervous stress, iron improves blood composition, zinc favorably affects the condition of the skin, hair, nails.
- Fiber contained in the nuclei is necessary to stimulate intestinal motility, in addition, it helps to thin the blood and, accordingly, prevents the development of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, heart attack and stroke.
However, a healing product can cause significant harm, especially if you use it in unreasonable amounts. First of all, we are talking about high calorie cashews, which should not be forgotten.
Serious poisoning can occur when toxic substances contained in the walnut shell get into the body, however, such a risk is possible only if you use an exotic treat directly in the country of its growth (or use fruits grown on your own windowsill) because Indian nuts are on sale arrive only after careful processing.
Did you know? The useful properties of Indian nut are used by the peoples of the world in different ways, sometimes very unexpectedly. For example, Peruvians treat their throats, Venezuelans apply wounds, Mexicans fight freckles, and Haitians use warts.
- Summarizing the above, it is safe to say that cashews in reasonable doses have the following beneficial effects on the body:
- blood cholesterol levels are normalized, its composition improves;
- blood pressure decreases with hypertension;
- skin condition improves;
- general rejuvenation occurs;
- the processes of memory loss, visual impairment, loss of vascular elasticity slow down;
- immunity is strengthened, a sense of vitality appears, fatigue decreases;
- the work of the heart improves, the processes of hematopoiesis are stimulated;
- some types of pain are reduced (in particular, toothache);
- antitussive and expectorant effect is provided;
- inflammatory processes slow down and stop;
- appetite decreases, a feeling of fullness quickly sets in (useful in the fight against excess weight).
There is an opinion that cashew is more useful than other nuts, due to its hypoallergenicity. Unfortunately, this statement is not entirely true. Indeed, it has been proven that a negative reaction to cashew occurs less frequently than to other nuts. But the term “less often” in this case should be taken very relatively, since it does not cancel the basic rule: any nuts and their processed products are, by definition, allergenic.
Important! Scientists have identified at least three specific proteins in the cashew fruit that belong to the group of allergens - vicilin-like and legumin-like proteins, as well as 2S-albumin (they are also called Ana o 1, Ana o 2 and Ana o 3, respectively).
Neither heating nor the effects of digestive system enzymes contribute to the neutralization of these proteins, and therefore a negative reaction to cashews is quite possible and very likely. Moreover, the substances mentioned are similar in their properties to the proteins present in walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts.
This, in turn, means that for people suffering from allergies to these types of nuts, cashews are also contraindicated. This effect is called cross-allergy: the immune system "confuses" similar substances and reacts to them equally hostile.
According to a study by a group of Western allergists, the frequency of cashew allergies is directly dependent on the amount of nuts eaten. In percentage terms, this pattern looks like this:
|A single dose of the accepted protein, mg||The probability of a negative reaction,%|
|less than 0.01||1|
It is important to note that the above table indicates the dose of the allergenic protein, which is dangerous for the reaction, and not the product itself, however, its exact dose in the composition of a specific nut can only be determined by laboratory means. Therefore, in the presence of food allergies, including nuts, the use of cashews in any case should be treated with great caution.
Cashew is a really unusual plant, giving at once two crops of valuable and tasty products. Moreover, the peel of one of them is a raw material for preparing a mass of useful things, from automobile spare parts to medicines. However, for a European, cashews are primarily a small nut, widely used in cooking and loved by many gourmets.