The act of de-shelling nuts is something that people actually enjoy doing. It’s likely there is a mental benefit of effort being put forth in order to receive a reward. And that tiny nut tastes so much better because of it.
Pistachios are a favorite nut to de-shell and indeed they are so tasty! It’s also very easy to de-shell, unlike some other nuts. Some, like the walnut, you even need a nutcracker to break though.
Shelled nuts are a win-win. You work to open them and you get a reward. You savor the taste of a single nut. And, nuts are totally healthy with the combination of proteins and good fats!
However, one of the most delicious nuts are cashews, and they seem to never come in a shelled version. Why is that?
It’s actually pretty surprising. Turns out cashews are part of the poison ivy family! There’s an oil that is considered to be a strong irritant and it is found in the layer between the shell and the cashew seed. Ingested, and it can be fatal!
How are we even eating cashews then? It seems pretty risky at best. Well it turns out they go through a process that ends up making them safe and free from the irritant. But there are warnings regarding labels which claim the nuts are packaged raw.
The nuts must be roasted at high temps as part of the process to get rid of the oil. They turn solid through the roasting as opposed to being raw.
Turns out the nut actually grows on the outside of the fruit! This makes it known as being an accessory fruit. The fruit itself is said to taste very good as well.
Most people have never questioned why cashews never came shelled. While others had very bad experiences with biting the nut straight out of the fruit. The following individual had that experience and talks about what ended up happening to him:
“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.”
Scary! So now you know why cashews are not shelled, and how important it is that they go through a process to be made safe!
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