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The cashew, scientific name Anacardium occidentale, is a tree in the family Anacardiaceae which produces a seed that is harvested as the cashew nut. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju (Portuguese pronunciation: [kɐˈʒu]), which itself is derived from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. Originally native to northeastern Brazil, the tree is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew apples and nuts.

The cashew nut is a popular snack and food source. Nigeria was the world's largest producer of cashew nuts with shell in 2010.

Habitat and growth

 

The tree is large and evergreen, 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 smooth margins. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm long, each flower is 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), it's located in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.

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.

Cashew nut

Cashew nuts are a popular snack and food source. 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 Asian and south Asian cuisines use cashews for this unusual characteristic, rather than other nuts.

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

Cashew nuts are commonly used in Indian cuisine, 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.

 
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