Anacardium Occidentale

Kasuy or cashew is one of my favorites, fruit or nut alike. The fruit of the cashew is yellowish to reddish in color depending on the variety. It is shaped like a cup upside-down holding its precious nut which is what we are all familiar with, the cashew nut.

I remember when summer time at my grandparents’ farm, it is surrounded with lots of cashew trees. My cousins and I go all around the farm to gather the nuts that has fallen to the ground. Sometimes we stop to eat some ripe fruits for our snack and then play with the nuts, we used the nuts like jackstones or shell for the game “sungka”. If we have enough cashew nuts on hand, we gather them and roast them in a make-shift metal container ( we do not use a regular pot for these because everything gets burned). We are careful not to be burned because we know the shells of the cashew nuts are very caustic. They call it the cashew balm or the resin and is used for making insecticides and varnishes. Also the juice of the cashew fruit can stain your clothes permanently. We enjoy eating the nuts afterwards. We break the nuts with a piece of rock or anything available to crack them open. You don’t want to crack open a raw nut though because of the caustic resin and it will burn your hand.
I enjoy eating cashew nuts then and up to now although we can only buy it in the can. It is good to know that cashew nuts is good for you. It contains mono-unsaturated fats, magnesium and copper which help prevent heart disease. It also is rich in protein and fiber, B vitamins and folate, with traces of potassium, phosphorous and selenium.

Cashew belongs to the family of mango and pistachio nuts. It is native to the coastal areas of Brazil. Portuguese explorers in the 16th century took cashew nuts and introduced them to other countries like India, Africa and other tropical countries including the Philippines.

Cashew tree is important for its wood. The resin from the nuts, which they call cashew balm is also being utilized for making insecticides and varnishes. We can probably use it too as a fuel alternative. Cashew apple or the fruit is also delicious. We slice them and put some salt or sugar before eating.

Cashew trees can not be grown in cold climates, that is why we know little of this tree and its fruits. We only know about the nuts.

The tree can grow as high as 20 feet. But my grandparents’ trees are not that high so we can always easily climb them. The leaves are also edible. My mom will pick some young shoots and she will dice them and mix them with shallots and tomatoes like a regular salad and it’s very good to eat as a side dish with grilled fish.