Cashews are native to Brazil.
The Portuguese spread them throughout Europe and other parts of the world in the mid-16th century.
In no-bake and vegan cuisine, cashews are a key ingredient of desserts, creams, mousses and salad dressings, but their creamy texture and sweet flavour also makes them a delicious snack, which can be eaten on its own. Cashew butter, which can be made at home, is also very popular and goes well with meat (particularly chicken). By seasoning and roasting cashews, you get a perfect snack when watching a film.
Cashews are widely grown in Vietnam, Nigeria, India and the Ivory Coast.
Strictly speaking, cashews are seeds from an evergreen tree called “caju”, which can attain a height of 14 metres and has a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The fruit look somewhat like an apple and are also edible, but the cashew itself grows at the end of the apple and must be processed before consumption.
Raw cashews are green and surrounded by a hard shell, which contains toxins and therefore must be removed by boiling.
Cashews belong to the family of pistachios, mangos and poison ivy – the last two containing the same type of toxin called “urushiol”, which can cause severe allergic skin reactions.