Does anyone know what a cashew apple is? Neither did we, even the first time we ate one. On our tour around Phuket, Sam pointed out a flowering cashew tree (abundant in Phuket) and told us that in about 2 months there would be cashew apples and nuts on the tree. We were confused, since we had no idea what a “cashew apple” was. So later in the day we went by the cashew factory, Cashewy. Outside there is a tree with fake cashew apples on it, to demonstrate the development process.
First the flowers bloom, then the cashew nuts form, and then the cashew apple grows.
Real cashew apples look very similar. They have fake ones at the factory so that people can see what they look like even when the tree doesn’t have any real ones. In town we ate a cashew apple as part of a mixed fruit plate, without knowing what it was. It tasted like an apple, but it was more crisp and airy.
If you see cashews growing on a tree, don’t just pick them. The sap on the shell will burn your skin! This worker who takes the shells off the cashew nuts is wearing gloves to protect her hands. We now have a greater appreciation for them, and realize why they cost so much. These people work very hard to make a living shelling cashew nuts! The worker above earns 25 baht for each kilogram of raw nuts! If the worker is lucky she will have extracted 3 kilos of nuts in one day (less than 3 USD).
The cashews are then roasted, which gets rid of the rest of the sap. The factory has all sorts of flavored cashews and a salesperson will take you around to sample them all. We bought some cashews with honey and sesame seeds. They also sold dried fruits and fish. After our visit I was craving cashews, so I kept ordering cashew chicken :).
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