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Cashew Nuts are the true fruits of the cashew tree, Anacardium occidentale, which is a native of northeastern Brazil. The fruit of the cashew tree is an oval or pear-shaped accessory fruit (false fruit) that develop from the receptacle of the cashew flower, known as cashew apple. The cashew apple, 5-11 cm long, ripens into a yellow and/or red fruit, edible and has a strong sweet smell and a sweet taste. The pulp is juicy but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport.
Cashew nut is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the accessory fruit. Within the true fruit is a single seed, commonly known as cashew nut. The drupe develops first on the tree, follow by the peduncle which expands into cashew apple. The seed or cashew nut is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant. Some people are allergic to cashew nuts.
The cashew nut is a popular snack, often eaten on its own, lightly salted or sugared. Cashew nuts are also used in Thai and Chinese cuisine, generally in whole form. In Indian cuisine, cashew nuts are often grounded and added into gravy, or used as a garnish in Indian sweets and desserts.