Monday, 24 March 2014

Why Cashews Are Not Sold In Their Shells

Cashews are a member of the same family as poison ivy, Anacardiaceae. Like poison ivy and many other members of the Family, part of the cashew plant contains an oily chemical called urushiol, which is a strong irritant for most people and can even be fatal for some if ingested.

In cashews, the urushiol is found not only in the leaves, but also in a layer of oil between the shell and the cashew seed. Needless to say, shelling cashews is something that needs to be done very carefully and not by consumers.

Despite the need for care in shelling cashews, it’s still often done by hand, much to the chagrin of the workers involved, particularly in poorer nations where safety equipment is often lacking.

From the above, you might be wondering why you can purchase raw cashews. It turns out, even so-called “raw” cashews are not actually raw. Eating true raw, unprocessed cashew seeds would result in you ingesting some of this urushiol, which, as mentioned, can potentially be fatal. Thus, the seeds must either be roasted at high temperatures to destroy the offending oil or, in the case of “raw” cashews, usually steamed and/or boiled in oils.

Sourced at Today I Found Out

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