Cashew is the nut of the cashew fruits produced by certain trees belonging to the family ‘Anacardiaceae’. Its scientific name is ‘Anacardium occidentale’ and it is considered a snack nut consumed directly or in processed forms like snacks, cashew butter, cashew milk, cashew cream, cashew cheese etc.
Brazil is the native land of cashew which was discovered in the 14 th century by the Europeans who introduced it across the globe, especially to India. The cashew trees flourish in well-drained sandy loam soils and warm humid climates. The trees normally grow up to 30-45 feet in height and start bearing the fruits after 4-5 years from planting.
The cashew fruit consists of the cashew apple-the edible oval-shaped pulp, looking like a boxing glove-and the cashew nut-the kidney-shaped drupe growing from the bottom of the cashew apple. Cashew is the common name for the cashew kernel that is processed by roasting and peeling the cashew seeds.
Cashew nuts are nearly 1 inch in length and ½ inches in diameter and they split into two halves just like any other legumes such as peanut, chickpea, soybean etc, and they are similar to peanuts and almonds in flavour and have a strong nutty smell. Cashew is also known as the ‘white gold’ due to its importance in the economy, and it is comparatively expensive as it is hazardous and labour-intensive to process the same.
Cashews have different grades depending on their quality based on the perfection of the final processed kernels. Cashews are classified as of good quality if the kernels or the cashews are damageless and in perfect size and shape along with any of the expected colours like white, light ash or pale ivory.
Cashew nuts have nearly 33 different grades and among them, around 26 of them are commercially available, used and exported. The grade W 180 is known as the ‘king of cashew’ due to its high quality and worldwide popularity.
There are many grades of cashew, however, the main grades are five of them. And they are W 180,
W 210, W 240, W 320, W 450 and the splits - that are halves or broken pieces of the kernels commonly known as WS (white splits cashew nut kernel) and LWP (large white pieces of cashew nuts).
The kernels are given grades based on their size, shape, and colour. The letter ‘W’ stands for ‘white whole cashews’ and the numbers like 180, 210 etc are for specifying how many cashew kernels are required to make up 1 pound of cashew. This means, the bigger the cashews smaller the grade number would be, making W 180 the highest quality and most expensive grade of cashew in the world.
Cashews are high in nutrients and they contain healthy fat, protein, fibre, carbs, manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, thiamine and vitamins K and B6. Cashews are also purported to improve heart health, increase bone strength, control diabetes, and treat stomach disorders and skin problems.
Vietnam is the largest producer of cashew in the world, followed by India, Philippines, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Benin and Mali. Vietnam is also the largest exporter of cashew, followed by India, Tanzania and Ghana while the US is the largest importer followed by the Netherlands, Germany and China.
India is one of the top exporters of cashew in the world, but almost three fourth of the cashews are imported from Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and then processed within the country to be consumed or exported. And Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Kerala are the main producers of cashew in India.
Some of the main trading markets of cashew in India:
Maharashtra (Mumbai, Pune, Charveli)
Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada, Palasa, Devarapalli, Visakhapatnam)
Karnataka (Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Hubli, Udupi)
Kerala (Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur)
Names of cashew in different Indian languages:
*Take necessary precautions while giving money or product in advance.