An Exotic Nutrient: Cashew kernel
The healing powers of the cashew tree
The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) belongs to the family of Sumac plants, like mango and pistachios. It is a Laubbaum, which originally came from Brazil and was brought to Africa and India by the Portuguese conquerors in the course of the 16th century.
The cashew tree of the Tupi Indians has preserved its peculiar name. They called him “Acaju”, which means as much as kidney tree and indicates the shape of its seeds. The Portuguese made “Caju”, from which the term Cashew was derived.
The indigenous population of Brazil recognized early on that the healing powers of the cashew tree were slumbering. Thus, the bark was used for gum infections and skin rashes. The fresh leaves were used in diarrhea and hemorrhoids . Wherever the cashew tree thrives, its components are still used as a remedy today.
The main interest, however, is the cashew kernels, which are known worldwide as delicious nibbles, for example, as an ingredient in student food. They are the reason why the cashew tree is now cultivated in numerous tropical countries – mainly in India, Nigeria, Tanzania, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam. In the meantime the cashew kernels count among the most coveted, but unfortunately also the most expensive nuts.
Cashew apples, cashew fruits and cashew kernels
The cashew kernel is not in the midst of the fruit of the tree – as is otherwise the case with seeds. Instead, the core grows outside, directly under the fruit. A legend from Thailand also provides the explanation: A wandering monk inadvertently attacked a cashew fruit and the seed was pushed out of the fruit. From this day all the cashew kernels grew outside the fruit, which, incidentally, are called cashew-apple.
The cashew apple
The cashew apple is a yellow or red sparkling fruit in the form of a peppers. It spoils quickly and therefore can not be packaged and transported over long distances. Therefore, it is not exported to other countries and is almost unknown to us.
Instead, after the harvest, cashew apples are processed into marmalades, chutneys, alcoholic beverages (in India eg “cashew feni”) or juices sold in Brazil in each supermarket within 3 hours. Especially the drink “Cajuína” is very popular there, it is used for medical and ritual purposes.
Cashew apples are rich in vitamin C , beta-carotene (orange variant) and anthocyanin (red variant). They strengthen the immune system , antioxidant and diuretic and are used as a natural laxative. Meanwhile the strange apples are offered in dried form, as juice, puree or jam increased in Europe – mostly on the Internet.
The real fruit of the cashew tree dangles in a style at the cashew apple. It is greenish to brownish colored, looks like a tiny boxing glove and is also called elephant louse.
In every Cashew fruit is usually a single seed, which is called Cashewkern or cashew nut. The reason why the kernels have not been stirred for a long time is to be found in cashew fruit. In the honeycomb-shaped structure of the double-walled fruit bowl is the poisonous cashew shell oil – in short CNSL (cashew nutshell liquid).
Cashew shell oil
CNSL is a natural resin that contains about 70 percent anacardic acid, 18 percent cardol, and 5 percent cardanol. It leads to redness, swelling, itching, rash with fever and pain in skin contact . If CNSL comes into contact with the mucous membranes, severe burns are the result.
CNSL has a lot of positive features. It is used both industrially (eg lacquer industry) as well as medically. In traditional folklore, CNSL is used, for example, in warts and chicken eye, psoriasis and ringworm. Studies have shown that anacic acid acts against bacteria as well as tumor cells and inhibits the multiplication of hepatitis C viruses. However, the main task of CNSL is to protect the cashew kernels from racemies.
Cashew cores are counted as nuts , but in the botanical sense it is as with pistachios and almonds around stone fruits. The seeds are filled and protected in the fruit by a thin-skinned cuticle, a very hard skin and a soft pulp. You can find out more about the complex processing of the cashew kernels in the course of the text under “Buy Cashew Kernels: Quality Criteria”.