The bare bones of the plants we eat

Cashew nuts

Next: Chestnuts

Scientific name – Anacardium occidentale

Cashews are popular both raw and cooked and are an essential ingredient of Asian cookery with a very distinctive flavour. They are cultivated throughout the tropics and vary greatly in size, colour and taste.

The pale edible nut is surrounded by an outer, caustic layer which is irritating to the skin and must be removed, this is normally done before the nuts reach the consumer. As well as being eaten raw as a popular snack the nuts may be roasted, lightly salted or sugared or even coated in chocolate. They are often ground as a constituent of sauces and are widely used in Thai, Chinese and Indian cookery. They are also used as a garnish in Indian deserts and sweets. A sweet desert called turrones de casuy is a marzipan made from cashews and wrapped in a White wafer. A butter is also made from the ground nuts and is a popular spread on sandwiches and crackers.