Friday, May 6, 2011

Cashew: Hard Nut!

Young Cashew ©Am Ang Zhang 2011

Mature Cashew ©Am Ang Zhang 2011

You probably have never seen cashew nuts sold in their shells in shops or supermarkets. Well, there is a very simple reason: the shell is extremely hard to crack. On top of that the shell when you do manage to crack open produces a black oil that is highly irritating.

I have seen simple mechanical ‘nut crackers’ in some tropical islands where young girls with good hand-eye co-ordination are employed to crack them without crushing the soft cashew inside.

Spare a thought for these girls as some of them suffered injuries as the machines are basic in design but powerful as they need to crack the very hard nuts.

Cashews like many other nuts are now known to lower LDL and prevent Gallstone formation.

Other Uses:

Many parts of the cashew plant are used. The cashew "apple," the enlarged fully ripe, fruit may be eaten raw, or preserved as jam or sweetmeat. The juice is made into a beverage (Brazil cajuado) or fermented into a wine. Fruits or seeds of the cashew are consumed whole, roasted, shelled and salted, in Madeira wine, or mixed in chocolates. Shelling the roasted fruits yields the cashew nut of commerce. Seeds yield about 45% of a pale yellow, bland, edible oil, resembling almond oil. From the shells or hulls is extracted a black, acrid, powerful vesicant oil, used as a preservative and water-proofing agent in insulating varnishes, in manufacture of typewriter rolls, in oil- and acid-proof cements and tiles, in brake-linings, as an excellent lubricant in magneto armatures in airplanes, and for termite proofing timbers. Timber is used in furniture making, boat building, packing cases and in the production of charcoal. Bark used in tanning. Stems exude a clear gum, Cashawa gum, used in pharmaceuticals and as substitute for gum arabic. Juice turns black on exposure to air and provides an indelible ink.             Purdue University.


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