Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why can't you buy cashews in their shells?

From Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories:

 Ever since we discovered them, we have been enjoying (and eating far too many of) the highly addictive Thai Lime & Chili Cashews from Trader Joe's. These things should carry a warning label: "CAUTION: MAY BE HABIT FORMING."

Anyway, while we eating them, we were asked if we knew why you can't get cashews in the shell. We had no idea. Actually, we'd never thought about it. But, come to think of it, you can get almonds, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, pecans, and even macadamia nuts in a shell, but not cashews.

Why? It turns out that the cashew shell is toxic. However, that raised the question of what a cashew looks like in its shell. Again, we had no idea. When we found out, we knew more people should see it. Weird looking, isn't it? And caustic, too!

Cashews, like many of the culinary nuts listed above, are not true nuts in the botanical sense. True nuts develop a hard wall around the seed (e.g. hazelnuts). Cashews instead have a lining around the seed that is filled with a nasty fluid.

Read the article


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