There is something calming about the process of de-shelling a bag of nuts before popping them in your mouth. Maybe it’s because it makes you feel like your earned the tasty treat, or maybe it simply gives you something healthy to focus on, taking your mind off the petty things in life.
Some of these nuts are simple to de-shell, such as the pistachio. You simply wedge your fingernails in the gap where the two shells meet and once you get some leverage, you can pop open the shell, and toss it in your mouth. Easy. And others take a bit more time and effort and even the use of a tool known as a nutcracker. The walnut is known as one of the tougher nuts to crack, as the shell is much thicker and it doesn’t typically have that opening that you can pull apart.
In any event, the process is rewarding because you eventually get to sink your teeth into a delightful salty treat. Not to mention the health perks associated with nuts, as they are packed with protein and good fats that your body needs.
But, did you ever wonder why cashews NEVER come in the shell?
As one of the most well-loved nuts, it’s surprising that the reasoning behind the lack of shell isn’t more widely known. And the answer is rather surprising…
Evidently, cashews are part of the poison ivy family, and in turn, they contain an oil that is considered to be a strong irritant. The oil is found in a layer that is right between the shell and the actual cashew seed, and if ingested, it can be fatal. Doesn’t sound too appetizing now, does it?
But, don’t fret…the cashews go through a process before they reach our mouths. But first things first…don’t believe the packaging when you purchase a bag of cashews. If a bag declares that the nuts are packaged raw, assume they are not. Sounds rather misleading right?
In order to get rid of the fatal oil, the nuts must be roasted at high temperatures, in turn making them sold as roasted nuts rather than raw nuts. Another rare fact is that the nut actually grows on the outside of the fruit, making it known as an accessory fruit. And believe it or not, the cashew fruit is supposed to be very tasty.
So, next time you receive a bag of shelled nuts for the holidays, don’t feel as if you’ve been cheated out of the flavorful cashew. This was done for your own safety.
While some folks have long contemplated why the cashew is absent of its shell, others haven’t thought twice about it…
“I had never even contemplated cashews having a shell!”
And others had their own experiences with roasted cashews…
“My grandmother in Panama use to roast Cashews for us when I was a kid. She had 3 or 4 trees in front of her house. She also made a drink from the fruit.”
And then there are others, who learned the hard way that the nut’s shell carries an irritant…
“A friend gave me the whole cashew fruit imported from El Salvador, and I made the mistake of biting the nut that grows on the outside to get it out. The juice in the inside splatter out and burned my lip, and the burned lip last me for about 3 weeks. It was a good thing that it did not splatter in my eye. I did not know then, much about that plant.”