A Few Facts About Cashew Juice
Most of us are familiar with the cashew nut, but may never have heard about cashew juice, much less cashew apples. Cashew juice is in fact a big industry in some countries, although in others the greatest attention is placed upon preparing and marketing the cashew nut.
We might envision a cashew nut hanging from a tree branch much the same as a walnut or a hazelnut, just waiting until the shell gets hard before plucking it. Cashew nuts do hang from branches of cashew trees, but initially are immature, and do not ripen until they have surrounded themselves with a thick, fibrous, and very juicy covering called the cashew apple. It is the juice of this apple, cashew juice, that is highly prized by some, either consumed on the spot, or made into a beverage drink, made into wine, or even distilled to make a fine brandy.
Cashew juice is rich in protein and carbohydrates, contains a significant amount of fiber and vegetable fat, and is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, and carotene, as well as the B-complex vitamins; niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. Cashew juice is also a rich source of ascorbic acid, vitamin C.
Careful Processing Required - Cashew juice has to be prepared prior to marketing, as the juice, and the cashew apple, are highly perishable when fresh, often spoiling within a day after being picked. Part of this is the result of the juice containing a fair amount of tannin, which also detracts from the nutritional value of the juice somewhat as tannin is detrimental to the body's processing of protein. Part of the juicing process involves the removal of tannin.
In some countries only the nut is harvested and marketed, a somewhat labor intensive process, and the apple and juice are left on the ground. The apple is not really a true fruit, but merely a covering for the nut, which is a true fruit. In other countries the apple is harvested to make juice or is candied, and the nut is left behind. Sun dried cashew apples are very popular in some of the countries where cashew trees are grown. The cashew apple is usually somewhat pear-shaped or ovate, and is typically 3 to 4 inches in length. The skin on the apple is waxy, and may be either yellow or red.
The production of cashew juice is relatively recent, as for years the cashew tree was grown primarily for the valuable nut and the apple and juice were not considered worthy of eating unless right after picking from the tree. In fact, for many years the cashew tree grew wild in many parts of the world seemingly being of little use. The cashew tree was likely used for timber before the nuts or the apples became popular, and cashew wood is still used in many places today in the manufacture of furniture. The bark of the tree has medicinal properties, as does the juice, and the oil in the shell of the nut is often used as an insecticide and lubricant, being rather volatile.
Beverage Or Ink - Cashew juice has to be processed rather quickly, not only because it tends to spoil rather rapidly, but also because it begins to turn black when exposed to the air, and as such is not particularly appetizing. In fact, once having turned black, cashew juice serves well as an indelible ink.
Cashew juice has yet to make significant inroads in the United States though it can be purchased in some specialty shops. The same may apply to furniture made from the cashew tree. There's no question though that cashew nuts, especially when roasted, continue to be, and probably always will be, very popular.