Cashew Nut

Botanical Name : Anacardium occidentale
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Anacardium
Species: A. occidentale
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names:Cashew Nut , Cajueiro, jambu,Caju  (The name Anacardium actually refers to the shape of the fruit, which looks like an inverted heart (ana means “upwards” and -cardium means “heart”). In the Tupian languages acajú means “nut that produces itself)

Habitat :Anacardium occidentale is   Originally native to Northeastern Brazil, it is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew apples and nuts.

Description:
The anacardium occidentale is large and   Spreading evergreen perennial tree , growing to 10-12m (~32 ft) tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4 to 22 cm long and 2 to 15 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm long, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals 7 to 15 mm long. The largest cashew tree in the world covers an area of about 7,500 square metres (81,000 sq ft).
Click to see the pictures of:

Anacardium occidentale tree

Cashew ready in tree

Young cashew nuts

Anacardium occidentale (Cashew nut)
The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp or false fruit). What appears to be the fruit is an oval or pear-shaped structure, a hypocarpium, that develops from the pedicel and the receptacle of the cashew flower.[3] Called the cashew apple, better known in Central America as “marañón”, it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long. It is edible, and has a strong “sweet” smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport. In Latin America, a fruit drink is made from the cashew apple pulp which has a very refreshing taste and tropical flavor that can be described as having notes of mango, raw green pepper, and just a little hint of grapefruit-like citrus.

The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands to become the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut.

Cultivation :
Cashew germinates slowly and poorly; several nuts are usually planted to the hole and thinned later. Propagation is generally by seeds, but may be vegetative from grafting, air-layering or inarching. Planting should be done in situ as cashew seedlings do not transplant easily. Recommended spacing is 10 x 10 m, thinned to 20 x 20 m after about 10 years, with maximum planting of 250 trees/ha. Once established, field needs little care. Intercropping may be done the first few years, with cotton, peanut, or yams. Fruits are produced after three years, during which lower branches and suckers are removed. Full production is attained by 10th year and continues to bear until about 30 years old. In dry areas, like Tanzania, flowering occurs in dry season, and fruits mature in 2–3 months. Flowers and fruits in various degrees of development are often present in same panicle.

Harvesting :
From flowering stage to ripe fruit requires about 3 months. Mature fruit falls to the ground where the ‘apple’ dries away. In wet weather, they are gathered each day and dried for 1–3 days. Mechanical means for shelling have been unsuccessful, so hand labor is required. Cashews are usually roasted in the shell (to make it brittle and oil less blistering), cracked, and nuts removed and vacuum packed. In India part of nuts are harvested from wild trees by people who augment their meager income from other crops grown on poor land. Kernels extracted by people skilled in breaking open the shells with wooden hammers without breaking the kernels. Nuts are separated from the fleshy pedicel and receptacle, seed coat removed by hand, and nuts dried. Fresh green nuts from Africa and the islands off southern India are shipped to precessing plants in Western India.

Click & see  :Twin Cashews ready to harvest

Edible Uses:
The cashew nut is a popular snack, and its rich flavor means that it is often eaten roasted, on its own, lightly salted or sugared, or covered in chocolate.
Click & see roasted  cashew as snacks

Cashew nuts, roasted and salted

Cashew sprouts (above) are eaten raw as well as cooked in Kerala
Cashews, unlike other oily tree nuts, contain starch to about 10% of their weight. This makes them more effective than other nuts in thickening water-based dishes such as soups, meat stews, and some Indian milk-based desserts. Many southeast Asia and south Asian cuisines use cashews for this unusual characteristic, rather than other nuts.[12]

The shell of the cashew nut is toxic, which is why the cashew is shelled before it is sold to consumers

Cashew is commonly used in Indian cuisine. The nut is used whole for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries (e.g., Korma), or some sweets (e.g., Kaju Barfi). It is also used in powdered form in the preparation of several Indian sweets and desserts. In Goan cuisine, both roasted and raw kernels are used whole for making curries and sweets.

The cashew nut can also be harvested in its tender form, when the shell has not hardened and is green in color. The shell is soft and can be cut with a knife and the kernel extracted, but it is still corrosive at this stage, so gloves are required. The kernel can be soaked in turmeric water to get rid of the corrosive material before use. This is mostly found in Kerala cuisine, typically in avial, a dish that contains several vegetables, grated coconut, turmeric and green chilies.

Cashew nuts are also used in Thai and Chinese cuisine, generally in whole form.

In the Philippines, cashew is a known product of Antipolo, and is eaten with suman. Pampanga also has a sweet dessert called turrones de casuy which is cashew marzipan wrapped in white wafer.

In Indonesia, roasted and salted cashew nut is called kacang mete or kacang mede, while the cashew apple is called jambu monyet (literally means monkey rose apple).

In Mozambique, bolo polana is a cake prepared using powdered cashews and mashed potatoes as the main ingredients. This dessert is popular in South Africa too.

South American countries have developed their own specialties. In Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular all across the country. In Panama, the cashew fruit is cooked with water and sugar for a prolonged time to make a sweet, brown, paste-like dessert called “dulce de marañón”. Marañón is one of the Spanish names for cashew.

Nutrition:
The fats and oils in cashew nuts are 54% monounsaturated fat (18:1), 18% polyunsaturated fat (18:2), and 16% saturated fat (9% palmitic acid (16:0) and 7% stearic acid (18:0)).

Cashews, as with other tree nuts, are a good source of antioxidants. Alkyl phenols, in particular, are abundant in cashews. Cashews are also a good source of dietary trace minerals copper, iron and zinc.

Constituents:  alpha-linolenic-acid ,anacardic-acid,arginine ,ascorbic-acid, benzaldehyde,beta-carotene ,beta-sitosterol,calcium ,gallic-acid ,palmitic-acid ,oleic-acid ,riboflavin, salicylic-acid ,selenium,tocopherol ,vanadium ,zinc

Chemistry
Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to contain 542 calories, 7.6 g H2O, 17.4 g protein, 43.4 g fat, 29.2 g total carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 2.4 g ash, 76 mg Ca, 578 mg P, 18.0 mg Fe, 0.65 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, 1.6 mg niacin, and 7 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to contain 561 calories, 5.2 g H2O, 17.2 g protein, 45.7 g fat, 29.3 g total carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 2.6 g ash, 38 mg Ca, 373 mg P, 3.8 mg Fe, 15 mg Na, 464 mg K, 60 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.43 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, and 1.8 mg niacin. Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to contain 533 calories, 2.7 g H2O, 15.2 g protein, 37.0 g fat, 42.0 g total carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 3.1 g ash, 24 mg Ca, 580 mg P, 1.8 mg Fe, 0.85 mg thiamine, 0.32 mg riboflavin, and 2.1 mg niacin. The apple contains 87.9% water, 0.2% protein, 0.1% fat, 11.6% carbohydrate, 0.2% ash, 0.01% Ca, 0.01% P, .002% Fe, 0.26% vitamin C, and 0.09% carotene. The testa contains a-catechin, b-sitosterol, and 1-epicatechin; also proanthocyanadine leucocyanadine, and leucopelargodonidine. The dark color of the nut is due to an iron-polyphenol complex. The shell oil contains about 90% anacardic acid (C22H32O3 and 10% cardol (C32H27O4). It yields glycerides, linoleic, palmitic, stearic, and lignoceric acids, and sitosterol. Examining 24 different cashews, Murthy and Yadava (1972) reported that the oil content of the shell ranged from 16.6 to 32.9%, of the kernel from 34.5 to 46.8%. Reducing sugars ranged from 0.9 to 3.2%, non-reducing sugars, 1.3 to 5.8%, total sugars from 2.4 to 8.7%, starch from 4.7 to 11.2%. Gum exudates contain arabinose, galactose, rhamnose, and xylose.

Medicinal Uses:
Properties: * Astringent * Hypoglycemic * Vermifuge
Parts Used: bark, stems, nuts, and resin

The cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL), a byproduct of processing cashew, is mostly composed of anacardic acids (70%), cardol (18%) and cardanol (5%). These acids have been used effectively against tooth abscesses due to their lethality to a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria. Many parts of the plant are used by the Patamona of Guyana medicinally. The bark is scraped and soaked overnight or boiled as an antidiarrheal; it also yields a gum used in varnish. Seeds are ground into powders used for antivenom for snake bites. The nut oil is used topically as an antifungal and for healing cracked heels.

click to see cashew apples
Cashew nuts could possibly hold answers in the search for better ways to treat diabetes and high blood sugar. Animal studies with diabetic rats fed nut milk extract are promising, but more study is needed. 1 Anacardiaceae spp  have long been used in the folk medicine and traditional cuisines of India, South America and the Caribbean. Cajueiro,as the tree is known in Brazil contains naturally occurring analogs of the latest diabetes drugs without their potential for liver damage or weight gain.

Other Uses:
Anacardic acid is also used in the chemical industry for the production of cardanol, which is used for resins, coatings, and frictional materials

Alcohol:
In Goa, India, the cashew apple (the accessory fruit) is mashed, the juice is extracted and kept for fermentation for 2–3 days. Fermented juice then undergoes a double distillation process. The resulting beverage is called feni. Fenny/feni is about 40-42% alcohol. The single distilled version is called “Urrac” (the ‘u’ is pronounced ~ ‘oo’) which is about 15% alcohol.

In the southern region of Mtwara, Tanzania, the cashew apple (bibo in Swahili) is dried and saved. Later it is reconstituted with water and fermented, then distilled to make a strong liquor often referred to by the generic name, gongo.

In Mozambique, it is very common among the cashew farmers to make a strong liquor from the cashew apple which is called “agua ardente” (burning water).

According to An Account of the Island of Ceylon written by Robert Percival  an alcohol had been distilled in the early twentieth century from the juice of the fruit, and had been manufactured in the West Indies. Apparently the Dutch considered it superior to brandy as a “liqueur.”

Known Hazatrds:
Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke (not unlike that from burning poison ivy) contains urushiol droplets which can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, reactions by irritating the lungs. .

Allergy:
For some people, cashews, like other tree nuts, can lead to complications or allergic reactions. Cashews contain gastric and intestinal soluble oxalates, albeit less than some other tree nuts; people with a tendency to form kidney stone may need moderation and medical guidance.   Allergies to tree nuts such as cashews can be of severe nature to some people. These allergic reactions can be life-threatening or even fatal; prompt medical attention is necessary if tree nut allergy reaction is observed. These allergies are triggered by the proteins found in tree nuts, and cooking often does not remove or change these proteins. Reactions to cashew and other tree nuts can also occur as a consequence of hidden nut ingredients or traces of nuts that may inadvertently be introduced during food processing, handling or manufacturing. Many nations require food label warning if the food may get inadvertent exposure to tree nuts such as cashews.

In some people, cashew nut allergy may be a different form, namely birch pollen allergy. This is usually a minor form. Symptoms are confined largely to the mouth.

An estimated 1.8 million Americans (between 0.4%-0.6% of the population) have an allergy to tree nuts. Young children are most affected; and tree nuts allergies tend to last lifelong. Some regions of the world have higher incidence rates than others

Toxicity
He who cuts the wood or eats cashew nuts or stirs his drink with a cashew swizzle stick is possibly subject to a dermatitis.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail418.php

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/anacardium_occidentale.html

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