What do cashew apples taste like? The truth about cashews


Cashew nuts have been known as nutritious nuts, favored by many people all over the world. However, just cashew kernels are popularly used, so how about cashew apples? Are cashew apples eaten? What do cashew apples taste like? Keep reading to find the answer. 

Where are cashew apples from?

                                      Cashew apples on the tree

Cashew fruit is native to tropical regions of northeast Brazil and has been growing wild since ancient times. In the 16th century, Portuguese traders brought the trees to India and Mozambique and began to export the seeds, expanding the cultivated trees further into Africa and Asia. The trees continued to spread across the tropical climates and also began growing wild outside of cultivation. Today Cashew fruits can be found in limited quantities at local markets in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The truth about cashew

Cashew fruit, botanically classified as Anacardium occidentale, grows on evergreen trees that can reach fourteen meters in height and belongs to the Anacardiaceae family along with mangos. The cashew fruit is considered to be an “accessory” or “false” fruit, which means it does not encase the seeds of the plant inside the flesh. The “true” fruit is the shell that contains the cashew seed attached to the end of the cashew apple.

The cashew fruit, or cashew apple, is the fleshy, protective “fruit” out of which the cashew nut grows. The flavor of the cashew apple is tropical but not solely fruity. 

Cashew apples have a thin waxy skin that is smooth and ranges from golden yellow to red once ripe. Each fruit is attached to two shells that encase green, kidney-shaped seeds. These are raw cashew nuts and should be treated with care. Within the shell is a substance that can cause severe allergies. We suggest avoiding this section of the plant if you are inexperienced in handling them.

                                              Cashew apple after cutting

Cashew fruit texture – What do cashew apples taste like?

You won’t find a fruit texture like cashew fruit. It’s not hard like the cashew nut, but rather densely fibrous. It becomes juicy as you eat it, even watery.

Cashew fruit is small to medium in size, averaging 5-11 centimeters in length, and has a bulbous, oval to a pear shape. The very thin skin is covered in a waxy, smooth coating, and as the fruit matures. It ripens to golden-yellow or red, sometimes variegated with a blend of both hues. Underneath the surface, the yellow flesh is spongy, fibrous, juicy, and soft but also stringy. 

Cashew fruit is highly aromatic with sweet, tropical flavors mixed with an astringent taste. Many liken the flavor of the fruit to be a blend of cucumbers, strawberries, mangos, and bell pepper. Attached to the bottom of the fruit, there is a double-hulled shell that encases a kidney-shaped, green seed which is the raw form of the well-known cashew “nut.” It is important to note that within the shell. There are harmful substances that can cause a rash and irritation on the skin if touched. So care and prevention should be taken if handling the raw cashew shell.

Nutritional value of cashew fruits

Cashew fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C and magnesium, which can help promote tissue and bone growth, and contains copper, potassium, and iron. The fruit also contains fiber, earning it the reputation of a digestive cleanser, and the tannic juice is sometimes used to help soothe sore throats.

                            Cashew apple after picking from the tree

Uses for the cashew fruit in cooking

Although the cashew apple can be eaten raw, many people find the acidic, astringency of the juice unpleasant. However, if you enjoy strong flavors then slice the fruit into thin pieces to make the stringy texture more palatable. Brazilian locals will often sprinkle salt on each slice to help balance out the bitterness.

The fruit is commonly pressed to extract the juice which can then be combined with other juices or added to smoothies. The juice is also popular fermented and distilled into a spirit.

Cashew apples can be boiled into preserves, conserves, jams, chutneys, and sauces. They can also be used to make confectionery.

The pulp can be chopped into cubes and added to soups, casseroles, and curries. Cooking the fruit will help reduce the bitter flavor. The traditional use for the fruit is to make tea out of it.

Brazilians produce a beverage called Cajuína that can be used in rituals and has medicinal benefits, while the Indians make Cashew Feni, a distilled liquor.

Applications of cashew apples

Cashew fruit can be consumed raw, but the juice in the flesh is often very astringent and unpalatable to many consumers. The flesh is popularly sliced into very fine pieces to reduce the fibrous texture and is sprinkled with salt to remove the astringent flavor. Cashew fruit is also commonly boiled or simmered into jams, preserves, and chutneys, steamed to reduce the bitter flavor, candied or added to curries, soups, and stews. In addition to consuming the flesh, the juice is a favorite ingredient in smoothies and cocktails. It is important to note that the juice can stain clothing so care should be taken when juicing the fruit. Cashew fruit pairs well with mangoes, coconut, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, kale, and cinnamon. The fruits begin to spoil just a few hours after it falls from the tree, so it should be used immediately for best flavor.

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