Where do Cashews come from?   6 comments

When you live in a northern climate, far away from the tropics, you never get a chance to see where some of your  yummies come from.   Kicking back on the couch on a chilly winter night, maybe with the gang, you pop open a can of mixed nuts and watch the football game.  A couple peanuts here, maybe an almond or two, if it’s the deluxe mix, a brasil nut or two, and oh – your favorite – cashews.  Ever wonder where they come from?

On one of my first trips to El Salvador, my husband pulled over on the road and showed me these fruits.  “See these?,” he asked me “These have nuts inside them.  Semilla de marañon.”    I looked at this tree with all these yellow fruits, and at the bottom of each one was a funny looking thing, kind of grayish green, that appeared to be growing out of it.  Strangely enough, it was in the shape of something very familiar.   It was one of those naive gringa “wow” moments the natives here like to giggle at us for.    Each marañon, as they are called in Spanish, will grow a seed, not on the inside of its fruit, like most fruits do*, but as a funny bud on the end, in an extremely hard shell, with the seed inside.  And that seed, my friends, is the cashew.    You cannot bite the seed open, it has to be roasted, and be sure to have a lot of fresh air when doing so, if you ever try, as the smoke can be toxic.

Here they are, hanging on the tree. You can see the hard-shell off the end of the sweet fruit part, which has the cashew in it.

A red variety of cashew fruit here in El Salvador

Fresco de Marañón I made the other day. I think you're supposed to peel them first. I'll be sure to next time.

* The sweet fruit of the marañon tree is a false fruit, according to Wiki, and it actually grows after the “real” fruit, which is the seed.  

6 responses to “Where do Cashews come from?

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  1. on the road to chalate, there is a stand that sells like 6 different varieties of atol, and atol de semilla de marañon is PHENOMENAL. omg, I’m salivating just thinking about it

  2. Fresco de maranon is one of my favorites. You don’t have to peel them, but you can run it through a strainer to help take out the big pieces. Plus, if left long enough it makes a great chicha!

  3. Try the marañon frozen, it is a nice snack, cutting in slices ideal for those hot days, adding a little bit of salt, delicious!!
    Last time I had a marañon as fresco or congelado (frozen), was 23 year ago. Long long time !!!

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