The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew nut and the cashew fruit; The fruit is also known in some regions as the cashew apple. It can grow as high as 46 ft and the species is originally native to northeastern Brazil.
The cashew nut is widely consumed, eaten on its own, used in recipes, or processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter. In general, a cashew tree takes three years from planting before it starts production, and eight years before economic harvests can begin. Nuts are far more requested and commercialized than the fruit.
I became more interested in this amazing fruit after I started to support the Pracaju Project with business planning, management and evaluation. The project aim to preserve the cashew trees for future generations and to increase women's income by producing sustainable, creative and nutritious cashew fruit products. It's lead by a local nonprofit based in the rural community of Caucaia, state of Fortaleza (Brazil) and received funds from a steel industry starting their operation in the region.
In 2 years, more than 600 cashew trees were planted and the local community started practicing sustainable fruit extraction. Also female participants reported feeling more confident and active in several roles at home and in the community.
By promoting the qualification in the handling and processing of cashew through vocational courses and the construction of a processing center they are impacting 25 women's lives.
Local markets are buying their cakes, sweets, cookies, lasagnas, candies, juices, liqueurs and honey made by cashew and other local fruits such as coconuts and bananas and they have been invited to participate in regional and national fairs and exhibitions.
The recipes using cashew nuts are famous but the “cashew meat” became a celebrity among Pracaju Project customers. Brazilian vegans are becoming crazy about it. According to them it is super tasty and it can easily replace chicken shredded in many dishes.
Well… I took this picture of their freezer, I'm not vegan and love it! If you would like to learn how to prepare the cashew meat send me a message. I will be happy to help you to prepare tacos, lasagna, rice and other yummy dishes.