Is a Cashew a Fruit or a Nut?

Quck answer

A cashew is technically a seed, not a nut. It comes from the cashew fruit, which is a drupe. The cashew seed is surrounded by a double shell, which contains a toxic oil that must be removed before consumption. Cashews are commonly referred to as nuts due to their culinary use and similar characteristics to other nuts, but botanically they are classified as seeds. So, to answer the question, a cashew is neither a fruit nor a nut, but a seed from the cashew fruit.


Do you have a preferred type of apple? With so many options to choose from, some individuals enjoy the tartness of Granny Smith apples, while others prefer the sweetness of Red Delicious. Whether you enjoy dipping your apples in caramel or baking them into a pie, everyone has their favorite when it comes to this popular fruit!

You would assume that you could easily recognize an apple when you see one, right? After all, they all have a similar appearance – round and shiny, typically with a stem. However, many people unknowingly consume a different type of apple. What are we referring to? The cashew apple!

That’s correct – the cashew is actually a fruit. To be more specific, the cashews you often find in a variety pack of nuts are actually the seeds of the cashew apple. These fruits grow on trees that are native to Brazil, but explorers from the past spread them all over the world. Nowadays, cashew trees can be found in Asia, Africa, and South America.

What does a cashew apple look like? They resemble the apples you would typically purchase at a grocery store. They are usually red or yellow in color. However, they have an oval shape, whereas most apples are more round. Additionally, the cashew – the part you are most familiar with – grows on the exterior of the apple, within a tough shell.

The process of harvesting cashews is quite time-consuming. Each cashew apple contains only one cashew seed. Just imagine how many apples are required to produce a single jar of cashews! Furthermore, each cashew must be carefully removed from its shell and thoroughly cleaned. The shell of the cashew, also known as a drupe, is toxic and can cause illness if consumed. Even touching the shell can result in skin burns!

The cashew apple itself is used in various countries to produce jams and juices. It is even used as an ingredient in certain curry dishes. Cashews are often cooked in stir-fries or enjoyed on their own. They are also used as a dairy alternative, such as cashew milk.

Have you ever eaten a cashew? If so, you are aware of how delicious they can be as a snack. Additionally, cashews offer numerous vitamins and minerals that contribute to maintaining good health.

Do cashew trees grow in your area? If so, they might be known by a different name. In Brazil, they are referred to as “caju” in Portuguese. In Venezuela, they are called “merey,” while most Spanish-speaking countries refer to them as “maraƱon.” Regardless of the name, cashews are one of the most delectable snacks available!

Try It Out

Are you CRAZY about cashews? Find a friend or family member who can assist you in further exploring this unique fruit with the activities listed below.

  • Visit your local grocery store and examine the nutrition facts on a jar of cashews. Compare them to the nutrition facts of other snacks such as peanuts, granola bars, and potato chips. How do they differ? Which snacks would you choose for better health?
  • Curious about how complex the process of cashew processing is? Find out and then explain the steps involved to a friend or family member. Approximately how long does the entire process take?
  • Explore new ways to cook with cashews! Seek assistance from a friend or family member to discover cashew recipes online. Create a family cookbook featuring some of the recipes you find. What delicious cashew recipes will you try in the future?

Sources of Wonder

  • https://ucdintegrativemedicine.com/2017/11/cashew-not-nut/#gs.526t9m (accessed 23 Sept. 2019)
  • https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/cashew_apple.html (accessed 23 Sept. 2019)
  • https://www.britannica.com/plant/cashew (accessed 23 Sept. 2019)

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