Cashews are seldom truly raw because heat is usually used to remove the cardol they contain. Cardol is a toxic oil contained in the shell that can cause severe irritation to the skin and mucous membranes. This toxin can be deactivated by either steaming the nuts in their shell, roasting them dry, as is the case with this ingredient, or roasting them in hot oil. The shell is also so hard that it is difficult to remove without first heating the cashews. You can purchase roasted cashews unsalted or salted and/or seasoned.
Roasted cashews are a nice addition to any mixed salad. They enhance the flavor of vegetable dishes and are also a nice addition to rice dishes. Cashew butter can be used to thicken sauces or season spreads. In addition, cashews are often an ingredient in desserts (e.g., raw cakes).
In a 100-gram serving, raw cashews provide 553 Calories, 67% of the Daily Value (DV) in total fats, 36% DV of protein, 13% DV of dietary fiber and 11% DV of carbohydrates. Cashews are rich sources (> 19% DV) of dietary minerals, including particularly copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium (79-110% DV), and of thiamin, vitamin B6 and vitamin K (32-37% DV). Iron, potassium, zinc, and selenium are present in significant content (14-61% DV) (table). Cashews (100 grams, raw) contain 113 milligrams (1.74 gr) of beta-sitosterol.1
There is hardly another food that contains a higher proportion of the essential amino acid tryptophan than cashews. Tryptophan is an essential nutrient in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Cashews are also a good source of minerals such as magnesium and iron.
For some 6% of people, cashews can lead to complications or allergic reactions which may be life-threatening. These allergies are triggered by the proteins found in tree nuts, and cooking often does not remove or change these proteins. Reactions to cashew and tree nuts can also occur as a consequence of hidden nut ingredients or traces of nuts that may inadvertently be introduced during food processing, handling, or manufacturing, particularly in Europe.1
The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the cashew apple. It can grow as high as 14 m (46 ft), but the dwarf cashew, growing up to 6 m (20 ft), has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields. The species is originally native to northeastern Brazil. Portuguese colonists in Brazil began exporting cashew nuts as early as the 1550s. Major production of cashews occurs in Vietnam, Nigeria, India, and Ivory Coast. The cashew nut, often simply called a cashew, is widely consumed. It is eaten on its own, used in recipes, or processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter. The shell of the cashew seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications including lubricants, waterproofing, paints, and arms production, starting in World War II. The cashew apple is a light reddish to yellow fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled into liquor.1
Conventional roasted cashews are generally roasted in oil. However, dry roasting is the process used for this ingredient. The cashews are gently dry roasted in the oven, and as no oil is used in the process, they retain more of their natural flavor. Temperatures of around 200 °C are used to roast the cashews, whereby this is also enough heat to deactivate the cardol. Roasting also makes the shells crack open so that they are easier to remove. The roasting process has to be carefully controlled so that the cashews don’t take on a dark color. After roasting, the cashews are usually shelled by hand, which requires a certain degree of skill.