Cashew trees originated from the north east of Brazil. In the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers took cashew trees from Brazil and introduced them into other tropical regions such as India and African countries, where they are now cultivated. Cashews belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio nut.
The cashew fruit consists of two distinct parts, a fleshy stalk in the form of a pear, also called cashew apple. It has a bright yellow or red skin, and a nut of dark brown colour, in the shape of a kidney. This hangs from the lower end of the apple, and is the nut as we know a cashew. Cashews in the shell are not available in stores because these nuts’ interior of their shells contains a caustic resin. The resin must be carefully removed before they are edible. The resin is used in industry for the production of varnishes and insecticides.
Cashew apples are not commonly known in Australia but are regarded as delicacies in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil and the Caribbean. The cashew nut is known as shelled, roasted and salted forming an ingredient as snack and the confectionery industry (delicacies, chocolate). The principal producing countries of cashews are India, Vietnam, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mozambique and Brazil.
Cashew nuts are a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. In comparison to other tree nuts, natural cashew nuts have a lower fat content.