I know peanuts grow in the ground, and walnuts grow on trees, but where do cashew nuts come from? --- Hulie, Benton, NC
Marshall Brain answered:
Compared to walnuts or pecans, Cashew nuts are strange. Cashews come attached to the bottom of a cashew apple, which grows on a cashew tree. The easiest way to understand a cashew apple is to see one, as in this video:
Getting the cashew nut out of its shell is done one at a time:
This method seems to be about twice as fast:
For more information on the nut and the apple see: Cashew Apple
The production and processing of cashew nuts are complex and difficult problems. Because of the great handicap of the toxic shell oil, Latin Americans and West Indians over the years have been most enthusiastic about the succulent cashew apple and have generally thrown the nut away or processed it crudely on a limited scale, except in Brazil, where there is a highly developed cashew nut processing industry, especially in Ceara. In Mozambique, also, the apple reigned supreme for decades. Attention then focused on the nut, but, in 1972, the industrial potential of the juice and sirup from the estimated 2 million tons of surplus cashew apples was being investigated. In India, on the other hand, vast tonnages of cashew apples have largely gone to waste while that country pioneered in the utilization and promotion of the nut.
If you would like to eat some cashews, try: Lemon Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry