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What Are Cashew Fruits?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier

Cashew fruits can be found on the cashew tree, which is the plant that produces the popular cashew nut. This fruit is typically comprised of two parts: the cashew apple and the appendage containing the cashew nut. It thrives in tropical areas and is highly sought by cultivators, particularly in native Brazil.

As the homes of the fruits, cashew trees have a slightly unusual appearance. They produce evergreen leaves, but the trunks are short and often twisted into abnormal shapes. The tree is also on the shorter side, averaging about 30 feet (about 9 meters) tall.

A cashew apple.
A cashew apple.

The official name of the cashew apple is anacardium, due to its heart-like oval or pear shape. When it ripens, it takes on a yellowish or red color and grows to roughly 2 to 4 inches (5 to 11 centimeters). It is also called the maranon in some regions.

Since they are not traditional fruits that serve as coverings for seeds, cashew apples are viewed as a pseudofruit, or accessory fruit. They grow from flowers on the cashew tree. The actual fruit grows as an extension, called a drupe, from the cashew apple, and it is this extension that contains the cashew nut.

Cooked cashews.
Cooked cashews.

These nuts are perhaps the most well-known part of the cashew fruit. They are regarded as small seeds, and they may grow individually or in clusters. After about two or three months, the nuts reach maturity and fall off the tree, along with the rest of the fruit. Both the nut and the nut shell liquid contained inside are often taken by individuals for commercial purposes.

Due to their sweet taste and smell, cashew apples are a popular food item as well. The pulp and juice have a tropical citrus-like flavor and contain high amounts of vitamin C. These components of cashew fruits may be consumed by themselves or may be combined with other ingredients to form drinks or jellies. A dessert known as dulce de maranon may also be created from cashew fruits. In many areas, fallen cashew fruits are used as grazing material for livestock.

The trees and their byproducts grow naturally in South America. Large commercial farms do exist in various regions that specialize in growing cashew fruits, however. Once the nuts and cashew apples and nuts have fallen off the tree, plantation workers may remove only the nuts and leave the apples. They may also gather the apples and preserve them in syrup-filled jars.

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    • A cashew apple.
      By: Vinicius Tupinamba
      A cashew apple.
    • Cooked cashews.
      By: Shariff Che'Lah
      Cooked cashews.