Raw Cashew Nuts in Shell

Raw Cashew Nuts in Shell

The cashew tree originated from South America where it flourished in Peru and Brazil. In the 16th century, the tree was introduced to India by Portuguese traders. Since then, it has become one of their major export crops equal to Brazil.  There are other countries that grow and export cashew. They include Malaysia, Thailand, China, Colombia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Venezuela, Mozambique, the Philippines, Guatemala, Kenya and Sri Lanka. However, The United States and The Netherlands are the largest importers of cashew nuts.




The cashew nutshell liquid which is a by-product of processed cashew contains 18% of cardol, 5% of cardanol and 70% of anacardic acids. These acids are used as a treatment for tooth decays because of their lethality to some resistance bacteria. The seeds when ground are used as antivenom to cure snake bites . The nut oil can be used as an antifungal for healing cracked heels.


Cashew nuts


The nut is grinded and used as snack which is either sugared or salted. The nuts are usually covered in chocolate and are considered cheaper than almonds and peanuts. They are also an important ingredient in Indian and Chinese cuisines. They provide nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, sugar, vitamin B complex, phosphorus, calcium, dietary fibers magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamin C. The fats and oils in the cashew nuts contain monounsaturated fat (54%), polyunsaturated fat (18%), saturated fat (16%) and stearic acid (7%).

The cashew nuts can be harvested when the shell is still green. In this case, the kernel can be extracted easily after the shell is cut with a knife. At this stage though, care should be taken while extracting the kernel as it can be very corrosive. It is always advisable to put on gloves when extracting to prevent any injuries. To remove the corrosive acid, the kernel can be soaked in turmeric water.

Cashew is primarily a tropical crop so it grows best in moist, warm and tropical climate. Cashews are distributed at altitude of 700m and the temperature falls above 200c. Sometimes it grows at an elevation of almost 1200m.  Though cashew can be grown in a coastal region, it doesn’t survive where there is frost.  Because cashew is a hardy crop, it can be adopted in different soil types except a water logged, saline and heavy clay soil. Usually the sandy, laterite and well drained soils are the best soils for cashew.

There are more than 30 different varieties of cashews grown across Africa, South America and India. The difference is mostly due to the climate and farming practices in the region. The best time of planting is usually between June and August when the moisture air has been surcharged. If there is irrigation facilities, planting can be done all year round except during the winter months.

Cashews are equally affected by some pests.  Leaf minor, stem borer, leaf blossom webber, and tea mosquito are all pests of cashew.  Of these, tea mosquitoes cause severe economic damage to cashews. Chemicals like Quinalphos, Carbaryl  and Phosphamidon can be used to control these pests.

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