All About the Cashew Apple

Cashew apple refers to the fruit that grows along with cashew nuts.

Description of the Fruit

The cashew apple comes from the same cashew tree that produces cashew seeds. The trees can be up to 14 meters tall, with dwarf cashew trees getting better yields and only growing up to 6 meters. The trees are native in northern South America, the Caribbean Islands, and Central America.

The cashew apple attaches to the stem of the tree with the bottom of it connecting to the cashew nut in its shell.

Changes to the Fruit Over Time

Cashew is a native plant in Brazil. The Portuguese brought it to Goa, India around 1560 to 1565. After this, it spread throughout the rest of Southeast Asia before making its way to Africa.

Description of Taste

The fruit is considered an accessory or false fruit because the nut is the “true fruit.” The fruit has a strong taste and sweet smell. You can eat the cashew apple fresh, ferment it into alcoholic drinks or vinegar, or cook it into curries. It is also common in jams, chutneys, and preserves as well as for drink flavorings. You can reduce the astringency of the fruit by steaming it and then washing it in cold water, or by steeping it in boiling saltwater.

Is It Used in Desserts?

Many desserts involving cashew apples involve turning them into a liquid or paste of some sort. Cashew fruit payasam is a popular dessert in India that combines the cashew apple with seasonings and jaggery, a non-centrifugal unrefined sugar.

Pop Culture References

In Goa, people mash the cashew apple before extracting the juice and letting it ferment before distilling twice. People in other areas of the world also use cashew apples to make alcohol, including in parts of Tanzania and Mozambique.

Other Uses

The most common use of the cashew tree is the cashew nuts that grow off of the fruit. These are hardy enough for easy transportation around the world. It is also normal to use discarded nuts and residues from extracted oils for animal feed.

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