Once You See How Cashews Grow, You’ll Never See Them the Same Way Again

If cashews are your favorite nuts you might not want to read this.

You might find yourself enjoying a handful of cashews as an afternoon snack at work or at the bar while you’re waiting for your drink to arrive. But have you ever really thought about where they come from, or how they grow? The answer is most likely no because let’s face it—with everyone’s crazy schedules who actually has the brain space to think about the origin of nuts? The answer: no one. (Don’t shy away from nuts after reading this though because they’re the best disease fighter in your pantry.)

You probably already knew this, but cashews grow on trees. That’s not the weird part, however; it’s what they grow from that will make you look at them differently. Cashews grow in a shell that’s attached to a “cashew apple” which is attached to the branch of the tree.

Honestly, it looks odd and pretty unappetizing. We’re questioning what person looked at the below picture and thought, “Hmm, that would make a good snack.” Here are some other healthy snacks you can try if this photo is scaring you.

Cashew treeJamuna-Panikkar/Shutterstock

Then, the way this bizarre nut/fruit combo turns into an actual cashew gets even crazier. You first pick the whole thing (including the cashew apple) from the branch. Then you pull off the nut and dry and steam it by hand. After that, you have to remove the shell by freezing and boiling it. But keep in mind the shell is filled with caustic acid so this process is very meticulous.

If you’re not yet completely grossed out by cashews, you’ll be happy to know that you can actually eat the cashew apple. However, it is very bitter and the flesh is runny so it’s better to use it in juices and jams.

Who knew cashews were so complicated?  We hope we didn’t scare you off of eating nuts—they’re one of the best foods you can eat for your brain.

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 with a B.A. in Journalism. When she’s not writing for RD.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.