(pic courtesy: google images)
After so many years of seeing and eating cashew apples, I was so excited to see them being displayed on trays in Epe market, the other day. I begged my husband to stop the car...!!! I have to buy some.
It was such an exciting sight for me. I haven't seen this fruit physically for over 15 years.... It was a special moment for me to actually touch the cashew apples and eat them again. It was also quite special to tell my daughter about them and help her experience the unique taste of cashew apples!
Cashew nuts are so popular in the west and I do not think that people who live there actually know about cashew apples. Well the fruit which comprise of the nut and the apples grows on trees...! The nuts are so nutritious and for that reason they are eaten right across the world, but the truth is that the apples are also quite nutritious...!
It unlikely that the cashew fruit is a Nigerian indigenous fruit as there are no known traditional name(s) for it other than kaju which is clearly coined from its common name; cashew. Cashew apples are thought to originate from South America and were taken to India and parts of Africa by Portuguese slave merchants. Over the years the fruit has been cultivated in Nigeria mainly for its nuts. Nigeria is the 4th largest producer/exporter of cashew in Africa and ranks 7th in the world.
The anatomy of the fruit is a little usual. Its seed (which contains the nut) is situated outside the fruit and shaped like a kidney. The apple which is can be described as a juicy fibrous pulp is attached to one end of the seed and has an elongated oval shape. The fruit has a very thin and extremely shiny/glossy/waxy skin which does not require peeling to eat the fruit. The fruit comes in a variety of attractive colours from bright greenish yellow to a variegated orangy peachy colour,
When ripe the fruit becomes squidgy soft but firm. It is made up a fibrous pulp which holds its juice. To get the juice, one has to bite into this fibrous layer to release the juice. The fruits are best eaten when cut into chunks and popped into the mouth. Cutting into the apples will cause spillage of the juice onto clothing. Cashew juice can cause an irremovable stain on clothing so care must be taken when eating them.
Nutritional Data of Cashew Apples (100g of fruit pulp)
Calories - 60kcal
Dietary fibre - 0.4g
Carbohydrates - 13g
Protein - 0.8g
Fat - 0.4g
Vitamins: A, C, Niacin
Minerals: Phosphorus, Potassium
Some Key Facts about Cashew Fruit
- Nigeria ranks fourth in Africa and seventh in the world for the production and exportation of cashew (mainly cashew nuts)
- Cashew is primarily cultivated for its nuts
- The cashew plant is thought to originate from South America but brought to India and Western African by Portuguese colonialists and slave merchants
- Cashew apples/juice contain five times more vitamin C than found in oranges
- Cashew juice contains powerful anti-oxidants used in the production of cosmetics
- Cashew juice contains some antibacterial/anti-fungal properties
- Cashew apples can be used to make jams and also used to cook certain sauces and curries
- Cashew juice can be used to make wine and other alcoholic beverages
- Cashew juice is thought to help with weight loss.