From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The cashew (Anacardium occidentale; syn. Anacardium curatellifolium A.St.-Hil.) is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to northeastern Brazil, where it is called by its Portuguese name Caju (the fruit) or Cajueiro (the tree). It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew "nuts" (see below) and cashew apples.
It is a small evergreen tree growing to 10-12 m 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.
What appears to be the fruit of the cashew tree is an oval or pear-shaped accessory fruit or false fruit that develops from the receptacle of the cashew flower. 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.
The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the pseudofruit. Actually, the drupe develops first on the tree, and then the peduncle expands into the pseudofruit. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing a caustic phenolic resin, urushiol, a potent skin irritant toxin also found in the related poison ivy. Some people are allergic to cashews, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than some nuts.
Other vernacular names include cajueiro, cashu, casho, acajuiba, caju, acajou, acaju, acajaiba, alcayoiba, anacarde, anacardier, anacardo, Andi parippu (in Malayalam), cacajuil, cajou, gajus, godambi (in Kannada), jeedi pappu (in Telugu), jocote maranon, maranon, merey, Mundhiri paruppu (Tamil), noix d’acajou, pomme cajou, pomme, jambu, jambu golok, jambu mete, jambu monyet, jambu terong, kasoy. In the Antilles, specifically Puerto Rico, it is known as pajuil and the pseudofruit is the main used part as raw fruit.
Originally spread from Brazil by the Portuguese, the cashew tree is now cultivated in all regions with a sufficiently warm and humid climate.
Cashew is produced in around 32 countries of the world. The world production figures of cashew crop, published by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was around 3.1 million tons per annum. The major raw cashew producing countries with their production figures in 2006 (as per the FAO) are Vietnam (941,600 tons), Nigeria (636,000 tons), India (573,000 tons), Brazil (236,140 tons) and Indonesia (122,000 tons).
It does take a little work to be a vegetarian but it's so worth it, oh it's so worth it!