Cashews are expensive and this is most probably because of two main reasons:
- firstly the cashew is not a true nut but grows beneath a sort of bulbous fruit
- secondly the cashew forms in a sort of kidney shaped vessel that contains a thick, poisonous liquid
When the cashews are gathered the outer casing and liquid filling has to be separated from the actual ‘cashew nut.’ If any part of the outer layer or liquid remains on the cashew then it becomes poisonous to eat. To make it safe it is cooked at high temperatures, the juice becomes thick and oozes out and the outer layer is then peeled off. The cashew should never be eaten raw as there is a risk of consuming the remaining poison that is left on the ‘nut’ and even small amounts can cause nasty side effects. The consumption of a small amount of this poison allegedly leads to a whole array of symptoms. It is claimed that these range from nausea, sickness, diarrhoea, headaches, pains and even various skin rashes. When purchasing cashews it may be wise, especially if they are pale to bake or boil them before eating … just to be on the safe side.
Cashew nuts – purchased as raw
Although the top part of the fruit is almost shaped like a pear it is often called a cashew apple. It is the fruit of a very small evergreen tree that grows in South America especially around Brazil and it is often known by its Portuguese name of Caju. The cashew apple is non-poisonous and very sweet, it ripens extremely quickly making it excellent for jam and jelly making.