The matured cashew fruit has two parts-the cashew apple and the cashew nut. The fleshy pear shaped cashew apple which is actually the stalk, grows into four inches in length and may be yellow or scarlet in colour. The cashew nut which is the tree fruit, grows to about an inch in length and contains the edible kernel.The cashew flower matures in to the fruit and nut, two or three months after it blooms. The sweet and succulent cashew kernel in its original form is soft, white and meaty. It can be processed into various kinds of foods. The cashew apple can be made into a kind of “wine” which is quite popular in some part of India.
NUTRITIVE VALUE OF CASHEW KERNELS
Cashew was introduced in India by the Portuguese about 400 years ago. Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya are the other important cashew producing countries in the world. In India, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa, Pondicheri and Tripura are the states producing cashew nuts.Cashew gained commercial importance when shipment of cashew kernels commenced from India as early as 1920s. Cashew kernels are extracted form the raw cashew nuts by roasting, shelling, peeling. After the removal of testa(husk) the kernels are graded into wholes, splits, butts and pieces and then packed in 25lbs tins. These tins are hermetically sealed by the process called “vitapacking”. In this process air is sucked out and carbon di oxide/ nitrogen is filled in the container under a vacuum of 26 lbs/ sq.inch. Two such tins are packed in a card board carton and such cartons are loaded into a full container.The cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) is an important by-product of the cashew industry. USA, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Honkong, United Kingdom, Canada, Kuwait, Newzealand, Singapore and France are the main countries importing cashew kernels form India. Similarly Japan, USA, UK, Korean Republic and Romania are the countries importing CNSL form India. Cashew is one of the world’s most wholesome food stuff. It is rich in vitamins, has a good measure of organic iron, calcium and phosphorous.India has become top producer, processor and exporter of cashew in the world market. Cashew is one of the important commercial crops in India. An area of 6.5 lakh hectares is under cultivation in India with a production of 4.25 lakh tonnes of raw cashew nuts. Among Indian states, Kerala has the largest area and higher production with respect to this corp. During 1997-98 India earned 1383.90 crores of rupees by way of foreign exchange through export of cashew kernels.Current total world production of raw cashew nut is estimated at over 9,00,000 Mt. India produces about 3,50,000 Mt. followed by Brazil 1,80,000 Mt. Vietnam 1,10,000 Mt., Tazania 80,000 Mt. Mozambique 30,000 Mt., Indonesia 30,000 Mt. and the rest by other countries in Latin America, Africa and East Asia