Now that's a spicy pepper!
Haha...fooled you. Hey, did you hear? they took the word 'gullible' out of the dictionary? No, really, they did. Go check. We'll wait here.
Seriously though, I did fool you. Those aren't peppers. They kind of look like they are though, don't they? Look closely at them and see if you can figure out what they are. Look. Look again. You got it?
That's right. They're cashew apples. No, they aren't an apple that tastes like a cashew. They are the fruit of the cashew tree. The same tree we get the cashew from.
And who here doesn't like cashews? There's a lot of people who will tell you the cashew is their favorite nut. And others who will insist that making cashews into a nut butter far surpasses peanut butter.
But, like the peanuts in peanut butter, cashews aren't actually nuts. Peanuts are legumes, like peas and beans. Cashews are seeds. The seed of the cashew apple, to be exact. And that makes it a Drupe.
If you look at the cashew apples, you will see that big green thing on the end. That's the seed. Inside the seed casing is the cashew. You may think it's odd that the seed grows out the top of the apple. Well, it doesn't. It actually grows out the bottom of the cashew apple.
In places where cashew trees are grown, people eat the apples. They are sweet, juicy and absolutely delicious. In most parts of South America, they favor the apple and don't eat the seed, which is prized amongst nut lovers in other parts of the world.
The apple is used in many foods. It's also juiced and used as flavoring for many drinks, both alcoholic and non. There's even a cashew apple flavored soda.
So, while others eat the delicious fruit, (which contains 5x the amount of vitamin C as an orange), we are stuck eating the cast off seeds.
But, if the nut, (seed), is just a cast off from the fruit, why are cashews so dang expensive? The high cost lies in the process of removing the seed from the pod. It's not the easiest thing to do when using automation.
The shell of the cashew nut becomes very hard to open when it reaches full maturity. But that's ok, because if the nut fully matures, it doesn't taste as good. Before maturity, while the shell is still green, it's fairly soft and can easily be sliced open. So, what's the problem? Sounds simple enough to make a machine to cut them open.
The answer is also the reason why you don't get cashews in your bag of mixed nuts in the shell.
Yes, like other foods humans eat, it can hurt us. The shell of the nut holds a toxin called anacardic acid, which is very similar to urushiol, which is the toxin found in Poison Ivy. Taking a cashew out of it's shell won't necessarily kill you, but it will cause a horrible rash that will spread to everything it comes in contact with. Gloves are recommended.
After the shelling, the seeds need to be roasted correctly to get rid of the anacardic acid. But you must roast them outside. The fumes that come off the roasting seeds, (nuts), is toxic and can seriously harm you. Imagine getting poison ivy in your lungs.
So, next time you see that can of cashew halves in the store and think to yourself how dreadfully expensive they are, just remember why. Some poor person had to suffer severe itchy-ness to get you your snack. Your snack that's just the cast off from the actual tasty part of the fruit. So, it's like toxic trash.
But I guess 'cashew' sounds better than 'toxic trash'.