You might find yourself enjoying a handful of cashews as an afternoon snack at work or at the bar while you’re waiting for your drink to arrive. But have you ever really thought about where they come from or asked yourself, “How do cashews grow?” The answer is most likely no because let’s face it—with everyone’s crazy schedules who actually has the brain space to think about the origin of nuts? The answer: no one. Here are some explanations for other little things you’ve probably never thought about—until just now.
Where do cashews come from?
You probably already knew this, but cashews grow on trees. Cashew trees, scientifically called Anacardium occidentale, are native to Brazil. They grow best in hot, tropical areas. The Portuguese are responsible for spreading the tree to other regions such as India. From India, the tree also spread to Southeast Asia and West Africa.
How do cashews grow?
The fact that cashews grow from trees might be weird enough to picture, however; it’s what they grow from that will make you look at them differently. Cashews grow in a shell that’s attached to a “cashew apple” which is attached to the branch of the tree. Honestly, it looks odd and pretty unappetizing. We’re questioning what person looked at the above photo and thought, “Hmm, that would make a good snack.” Here are some other healthy snacks you can try if this photo is scaring you.
Then, the way this bizarre nut/fruit combo turns into an actual cashew gets even crazier. You first pick the whole thing (including the cashew apple) from the branch. Then you pull off the nut and dry and steam it by hand. After that, you have to remove the shell by freezing and boiling it. But keep in mind the shell is filled with caustic acid so this process is very meticulous.
What happens to the cashew apple?
If you’re not yet completely grossed out by cashews, you’ll be happy to know that you can actually eat the cashew apple. However, it is very bitter and the flesh is runny so it’s better to use it in juices and jams. People also use it to cook dessert and in alcohol production after it has fermented for a few days. Who knew cashews were so complicated? We hope we didn’t scare you off of eating nuts—they’re one of the best foods you can eat for your brain.