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cashewsraw.jpg (484430 bytes)Raw Cashew Nuts - Are they Really Raw?
by John Kohler

Cashew nuts are one of my favorite nuts on this planet.  Unfortunetly,  most cashew nuts labeled "raw cashew nuts" are not truly "raw".  They have been heat processed in order to remove the delicious nut from the toxic shell.

You may ask why they label it "raw".. I have often thought of the very same questions.  Most companies label it "raw" because to them, the nut has "not" been processed, ie: roasted.  Although in the process of removing the actual shell, the nut has been very processed...usually steamed and boiled in oil!  So until recently I have pretty much avoided purchasing raw cashew nuts.   I have been enjoying in-shell macadamia nuts, which are my all time favorite nut.  When purchasing mac nuts, its important to purchase them in the shell.   Once the nut has been out of the shell, many go rancid.

This article will explain more about the cashew nut, and cashew apple, the fruit of the nut, as well as its origin, and nutrient value.

cashewtree.gif (19763 bytes)The cashew, Anacardium occidentale L., belongs to the Anacardiaceae or cashew family. Two related plants in this family are the mango tree and pistachio tree.

The cashew tree is native to South America where it flourishes in Brazil and Peru. In the sixteenth century, Portuguese traders introduced the tree to India where it has more recently become an important export crop equal to that of Brazil. Other countries that grow and export cashews include Sri Lanka, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela, the West Indies, Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya. The United States is the largest importer of cashew nuts.

The cashew tree is a hearty, fast-growing evergreen with an umbrella-like canopy. Under favorable conditions it may reach a height of forty to fifty feet. The tree has a rather messy look with it's gnarled stem and crooked branches. Lower branches rest near the ground and may root, further augmenting it's spreading form. The leaves of the cashew tree are four to eight inches long and two to three inches wide. Its aromatic flower clusters are a yellowish pink.

cashewapple.jpg (11437 bytes)Cashew trees produce both a fruit ("apple") and a nut, and a valuable oil can be drawn from the nut shell. After the cashew flower blooms, a nut forms. The apple later swells between the nut shell and the stem. It takes two months for the cashew apple to ripen. When harvested, the apple can only keep for twenty-four hours before it begins to ferment. Although the fruit can be used for making many typical fruit products (jellies, jams, juice, wine and liquor), the apple is often discarded, in pursuit of the nut. If processed and stored properly, the cashew nut can be kept for a year or longer.   Technically, the actual nut is the thick-shelled seed. The outer shell (coat) of the seed contains the poison oak allergen urushiol, and may cause dermatitis in hypersensitive people.

cashew1b.gif (23703 bytes)There is a toxic resin inside the shell layer. If the shell is not opened properly, the resin will get on the cashew nut, making it inedible. Most companies steam the shell open at a high temperature, thus cooking the cashew nut inside.  A certain nut producer in Indonesia uses a special technique with specially-designed tools (without using any heat at all) to open the shell cleanly every time without ever exposing the cashew nut to the resin. The raw cashews are much sweeter, tastier, and nutritious than their cooked counterparts.

Many people avoid cashew nuts because of their high fat content, though they are lower in total fat than almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts. Cashew provide essential fatty acids, B vitamins, fiber, protein, carbohydrate potassium, iron, and zinc. Like other nuts, cashews have a small percentage of saturated fat; however, eaten in small quantities cashews are a highly nutritious food.

There are only a few places that sell the truly RAW cashew nuts.  I recommend the following  place: The The Raw Food World.

 

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