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Mar 1, 2011 11:25 PM

Cashew Fruit/Cashew Apple/ Marañón

I had no idea that there was a fleshy fruit that grows out of the cashew nut, and that that fruit is used for fruit juices (jugos) and alcoholic drinks.We drank some delicious and refreshing Maranon jugo today at a Salvadoran resturant here in Boston. It was made w/ a frozen puree plus a little sugar plus water. Not too sweet and really delicious. from this article, it sounds like the maranon is too fragile to be shipped to far markets.Here's what I've learned so far, fyi!:

does anyone know of another example of an edible nut accompanied by an edible fruit?
(btw, the botanical definitions for 'fruit' and 'nut' can be different from the culinary definitions.I.e.,in the wiki piece above, they explain that the cashew is really a seed in this case.

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  1. opinionatedchef fresh cashew/caju is rarely exported because its generally picked mature (I think the cashew nut wouldn't be very good in a non mature fruit and not certain the fruit matures if picked green) and it deteriorates very quickly. India is the largest producer, followed by Brazil. The fruit is also used in sweets, ice cream, liquers, and the non-ripe cashew fruit (called maturi) is used in savory dishes called frigideiras in the northeast. The cashew nut is essentially where the fruit blossoms and turns into a pseudo-fruit/nut itself. You cannot directly extract the cashew "nut" from is pod raw, there is a neurotoxin in the "nut" pod which can etch your hands with burns or would cause serious issues if ingested. That is why if you buy them from people in tropical countries who gather the nuts (often from the ground after the birds have eaten the fruit), they are always roasted -- you heat the nuts in a large pan (I have heard 400F but it may not need to be that high to destroy the neurotoxin, but makes sense in a large pan of a wood fire as you need to heat the nut through) until its completely blackened all over, cool it on sand (usually), and still have plenty of work to crack it and free the "nut." This also means that even buying from someone who fetches them for free in the woods, on the beach are at the local farmers market you will pay a price equal to the export price. The raw cashews which are exported and have a longer shelf life are the result of industrial processes with steam (dry steam is 220F which is why I think 400 is high) and the same fruit would be taken advantage to make pulp, juice, etc. In Brazil the most famous drink with cashew fruit is caju amigo which uses condensed milk, but there also are versions of caipirinhas (this is unique in that the fresh fruit is used) and batidas made with it. A famous dish made with the cashew nut is vatapá which is commonly served with acarajé in Bahia (Mainha in Avon serves acarajé certain days and you can get vatapá at festas juninas).

    15 Replies
    1. re: itaunas

      Here are some cashew photos and take a close look at my profile image.

      1. re: itaunas

        beach girl, how can you possibly KNOW all this stuff? Your mind contiues to amaze me, and I am most grateful. It seems that, with brazil nuts and cashews, Brazil must have ' the toughest nuts to crack' , doesn't it? The lords of plant design sure make you work for your supper with these guys! Is frozen maranon available in boston latin markets so i can try making my own jugo? btw, i'm having a word derivation question- pinon and maranon; is 'non'= nut? and if so, do you know what is 'mara' and 'pi' ? thanks so much again.

        Ha, your profile image!>> i never would have known what that was until i did my wikipedia learning last night!

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          another fun fact (given the extremely cuastic nature of the oil in the seed coat) Cashews are a member of, (and give their name too) the Family Anacardiense. Another member of this family that people might be familar with is Poison Ivy (which in terms of its caustic oils, is actually a MILD member of the family) Mangoes are as well (which explains why some sesitive people get a poison ivy like reaction from handing mango leaves, sap, or unripe fruit.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            opinionatedchef I am not certain what pulp Las Carnitas is using because Goya (nor LaFe) doesn't distribute cashew pulp so its not that common in Central American markets. They do usually carry the juice in concentrate (often from a Brazilian company) and this same concentrate is available in many Market Basket locations. At Brazilian markets you can buy imported pulps for juice which do include 'caju' cashew -- keep in mind that these are very thin pulps, not like a cross puree, which you will find if you defrost them but normally they are just made fresh (and for a similar style juice with the concentrate beat ice, water, and sugar with the concentrate). A good place to find these is Casa de Carnes Solucao on Bow Street in Somerville.

            My formal Spanish knowlege isn't that deep, but I think you noticed an interesting similarity between those words, but might be reading to much into the ending. The actual name for the nut in spanish follows the portuguese 'castaña de caju' and most fruits in Spanish Latin America have different names, simply because there are different blendings of cultures and trade between them (indigenous and spanish, largely indigenous, spanish and african, african and indigenous). Maranon is the most common, but Dominicans use cajuil I belive.

            Cracking cashew nuts is probably the least of concerns for Brazilian rural workers. Although large farms (particularly soy, but also cafe and southern vinyards) are automated much of the agriculture in much of the country is manual and often seasonable labor. People camp on the farm under a tarp, make food on wood stove, and are paid by the load. Even for famers who have their own land and sell direct, its a hard life. But there is a love of the land. You should listen to the music "O Cio da Terra' -- the most well known version is by Chico Buarque, but its worth finding a recording by Pena Branca e Xavantinho. BTW as I have mentioned before my handle is actually a somewhat indirect reference to (a style) of music as well as the place (which is best known for the dunes which burried the ancient settlement).

            Since each cashew fruit has only one seed and the birds and other animals in Brazil eat everything in sight, it makes sense that as a native tree/fruit it plays hard to get for potential consumers.

            1. re: itaunas

              It is the beginning of jocote maranon season in Guatemala. Below is one of the many stands we passed on the way to the beach last Sunday. The jocotes are at the ends of the tables on either side of the umbrella.

              The cropped closeup isn't that great, but I can't find the other photos I have of them.

              Antigua Daily Photo has a great picture in addition to the recipe for roasting the nut along with photos of the roasting process.

              This is a really nice photo from the web. They look a little like a sweet red pepper in size and shape, with a cashew shaped stem. From your photos and wiki, it seems they can also be yellow

              We usually make a drink out of the fruit. They can be eaten raw with salt. I tried that, but the fruit is slightly astringent and tannic like grapes, so they are better mixed with sugar. Here’s someone’s recipe for the juice

              The texture is sort of like a ripe concord grape (though the size is bigger). So, as mentioned, it would be difficult to ship them. Hmm ... given a lot of grape similarities, I should Google to see if anyone makes wine out of them.

              There are street vendors selling cashews everywhere from city streets to the beach. They also have bags of peanuts and habas, a dried bean similar to a lima. They always offer a taste, a good thing, as some can be stale. The price for cashews is about 40 quetzales a pound ($5 USD). They carry little scales with them to weigh the nuts.

              According to this site

              “each tree gives about 2000 fruits per year at a price of Q1.00 each (12 cents of a dollar) but by bulk at Q0.40 each (o.05 cents of a dollar).”

              When I was in Spanish class for the mid-morning break sometimes a nut vendor would join the atol and snack lady on the patio (photo below). For peanuts (mania), they will add chile, salt and lime if you like.

              I often wonder what they do with all that fruit. After all, the nut is so small, little bigger than the stem of a pepper which is a similar size.

              BTW, "non" means "odd" in Spanish, as in an odd number

              This link states “The cashew nut is defined botanically as the fruit.”

              They also write …

              “Cashew fruit is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. It has up to five times more vitamin C than oranges and contains a high amount of mineral salts.”

              The tree and the fruit seem to have many medicinal uses from being an aphrodisiac (the juice) to treating syphilis. A one-stop solution.

              Nice photos of the tree in this link with closeup of the fruit on the stem and flowers.

              1. re: rworange

                rw, we haven't had the pleasure of your CA wisdom/advice tbecause we haven't been out there the past 2 yrs., so it is a delight to see all your helpful info here!
                thanks so much for all this !

                p.s. w/ such a high price for cashews(i DO understand why, btw, what a CHORE to deal with!), do locals not buy them/only eat them when they grow the trees themselves?

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  They are really a common street snack, so people eat them a lot. Five bucks a pound isn't crazy expensive and there is the option of buying as much or as little as you would like ... though it takes some negotiation to buy less than a half pound.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    opinionatedchef in Brazil the cajueiro is a native tree and in fact there are restrictions regarding cutting native flora so there are trees on undeveloped lots and open land that are ripe for picking. Some people pick the fruit for their own purposes and most cases don't bother with the nuts. This is also the case with people who plant caju on rural but not farmland (not just gentlemans farms). I think old cajueiros are great to sit under for shade, but because they tend to be low, because of the fruit, and the birds it woudln't be common to plant them for this purpose (the castaneiro would be much more common)

                    But there are people who collect nuts to sell on the beach, at the farmers market and fruit for various purposes -- these folks will take advantage of everything including the nuts from fruit the birds already ate. Particularly in the Northeast of Brazil. Where I am in Espirito Santo this is just under $6/lb* and you can get raw whole cashews from Indian markets in Boston to toast for around that. People who work in construction or rural labor don't buy such luxury fruits, its something for tourists -- someone into health food, workouts from Rio, Sao Paulo or Minas Gerais is more likely to buy this than your average local. BTW that price is the asking price at the farmers market and the vendor says he is mostly carrying it to draw people to his booth, so in this case I was able to negotiate him down a fair bit but its still there isn't much margin tacked on that over the price he is paying from the actual person who roasts and cracks the nut.

                    And there are huge farms of cashew trees for processing and export, this is something completely different from the informal market. But it would be rare for someone to plant 3 or 4 trees, to collect them and sell at the farmers market. Either they are primarily getting them from open land or its a larger scale operation.

                    As I mentioned above there is certain specialties which use cashew, particularly from Bahia so it is used in cooking, but not all across the country. And the peanut overall is more common, both for someone planting on their own land to harvest, at the farmers market, and the number of plates and sweets its used in.

                2. re: itaunas

                  we're headed to casa de carnes sol. tomorrow to see if they have the maranon, and also melon (the purity of the cantalope flavor of the jugo at las carnitas de montecristo really was a treat!). i'm also going to try to find your suggested music on youtube... thanks much again.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Coincidently I had a maranon refresco for lunch today. If you re going for tropical fruits, see if they have guyaba which is really something great

                    1. re: rworange

                      yes! i loved guyabana the one time i was in mexico.will do; thx much for that reminder.

                  2. re: itaunas

                    dune girl, what do you mean by a 'cross puree'?(middle of your 1st paragraph)

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      opinionated chef, I think was writing "gross puree" (sic) which in itself doesn't make much sense in English -- I mean thick, but was thinking in Portuguese 'grosso.' Many of the fruits used for pulps in Brazil have lots of fibers or seeds which are hard to remove. So with fresh fruit you beat the pulp with everything, pass it through a sieve, wash it a little bit. You can also simply push some fruits through a sieve or chinois. The end result is something thicker more concentrated than your juice, but if you expect a fruit puree its not it and its different than using a centrifugal juicer but not dissimilar result. I haven't checked into the industrial processes, but certainly steam, pressing, and separation by centrifuge play a part. BTW, are you sure the melon above they didn't just make with fresh fruit (or fruit they had frozen) as I don't think you will find that sold as frozen packs?

                      1. re: itaunas

                        dune girl, i did not ask them about the Melon jugo. and i don't know if the maranon was from a frozen puree or a bottle puree, because i don't know how to say frozen , much less concentrate, in spanish. google translate here i come!

              2. re: itaunas

                the skin is to fragile for import however, if you go to an ethenic market you may be able to find 2 pd. bags in the frozen isle seed n all. rge nut, is actually a seed

              3. As luck would have it, a neighbor gave me a bag of the yellow variety dead ripe off his tree. It really is high season here for maranon.

                I don't remember seeing a photo on the web of one cut in half, so here it is. It is all pulp, since the seed is outside.

                Even though I wasn't crazy about the first maranon I tried, this looked so tempting I took a bite. It was terrific, so juicy and as sweet as the drink even with no sugar.

                Also found my red cashew fruit pic from a while back.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Hmm ... I read in this link that the yelllow cashew apples have less tanin than the red which is why I might have liked the yellow more