Saturday, February 12, 2011

How To Make Cashew Milk & More

So Angel and I have been sicker than dogs with this terrible flu/cold thing that's going around right now. We've both lost weight and well I need a way to pump us up. Now Angel and I both drink milk so we don't agree with the guy in the 2nd video, but it's sort of humourous so I added. I like the first one, because of the mom and her girls giving the presentation. I think cashews are delicious and hope them to add them more to our diet. Anyways I hope you enjoy these videos and the info here. When we were in Mexico we liked to treat ourselves to cashews, pistachios and other nuts.

Cashews- From Wikipedia
The cashew is in the family Anacardiaceae. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts (see below) and cashew apples. Read more here


The cashew, Anacardium occidentale, is a fast growing, spreading, tropical tree, reaching around 30 feet at maturity, that starts bearing after only 4 years or so from planting. It is also a member of the poison ivy family. The nuts are carried as an appendage on the end of a fleshy edible bright yellow or red fruit, known as the 'cashew apple'. The nut meat itself has an outer protective layer which contains a caustic oil. The oil is highly irritating to the skin. The oil can be removed by heating the nuts in a shallow pan, but the oil tends to 'spurt' dangerously, and the acrid smoke can cause blisters. These days, cashews are heated in an inclined, perforated, rotating, drum. Once the caistic oil is released, they are sprayed with water to cool them. Some kernels near the bottom of the pile and closer to the heat source tend to get scorched, and get sold at a cheaper price as a lower grade nut. Grade 1 nuts are white, number 2 grade are lightly scorched.

The cashew is native to the American tropics of Brazil, Peru, and Mexico. It is also native to the Islands of the West Indies. When the Portuguese invaded Brazil in the 1500's they found the cashew growing along the coast line in the north. The Portuguese soon exported the seed to their colonies in East Africa.There they quickly become naturalised, and grew wild all along the Mozambique coast. From there they were introduced and naturalised in other East African countries - Kenya, Tanzania., and Portuguese explorers introduced the tree to Malaysia, as well. Soon, the African people started selling the wild harvested nuts to Portuguese traders, who on-sold them to merchants in India. The trees were soon planted in all suitable areas of tropical India, and in the 1950's quite large orchards were planted, chiefly in the state of Kerala. India is now the dominant producer of cashews in the world, shipping its finest grade nuts soon after the May harvest in nitrogen gas flushed sealed metal cans for maximum freshness. Brazil is the next largest producer, harvesting in October.
Environmental Impacts of Production

Cashew nut production has long been undertaken on a smaller scale than many agricultural commodities.

Most of the money from cashews is made not from producing them but from shelling them before selling them into the market. For this reason, investments have taken place at the shelling level rather than at the production level.
Damages much less than others

This means that there have been few plantation-scale areas of production and few purchased inputs designed to increase production. Both of these factors mean that the environmental damage from cashew production has been less than for most other commodities.

Better Management Practices

Cashew trees are one of the few crops that generally have a more positive than negative environmental impact associated with their cultivation.
This is because they tend not to be cultivated in plantations that require clearing large areas of land.

Sizeable plantations in Brazil
The notable exception is in Brazil where some cooperatives, with government assistance, have planted thousands of hectares of the trees. Rather, cashews are most often planted in clumps and as border vegetation. Increasingly, they are volunteers that are self-seeded and tolerated by landowners.

Good food source for wildlife
Cashews support and protect wildlife with their shade, their fruits, and their vertical and horizontal architecture. Even in large plantations, cashews are still a major food source for wildlife.

Effective at halting soil erosion
Cashew trees are very effective at retaining soil and stopping erosion, especially in coastal areas. This was why the Portuguese introduced cashew trees in many coastal areas of the tropical world that remain among the most important producers today.

Along the coast of Orissa in India, cashew trees are still planted as shelterbelts and windbreaks. They stabilise sand dunes and protect the adjacent fertile agricultural land from drifting sand. More recently, cashews have proven useful as a species of choice for reforestation in degraded areas.

They are one of the few trees that do well under such conditions and that generate both food and income for producers so that their survival is ensured.

Ways to improve profitability & efficiency
In general, however, there are a number of important, practical ways that cashew producers, and the industry as a whole, could be made more efficient and profitable.
These include:

* Increasing yields by pruning, replanting, or "topping" existing trees with new grafts in order to increase production and control pests.
* Bringing more areas into cashew cultivation, especially areas that are marginal, abandoned, or degraded.
* Undertaking value-added hand processing at the farm or community level so that more of the value of the finished product accrues to the producer or the community.
* Processing the cashew apple into juice, dried fruit, wine, liquor, and other products. The fruit could provide an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for many households that are short on both. Income from the sale of juice could also be significant given the large amount of fruit that is currently abandoned.
* Increasing the ability of local producers and shellers to sort their nuts by standard grades so they are not penalised by buyers who, in turn, capture the value (often as much as 10 -15%) of sorting the nuts by grades.
* Improving local storage capacity and conditions so that cashews can be stored until hand shellers have a chance to process the entire crop. This would also allow the production to be sold onto the world market more gradually so that dumping would affect prices less.
* Increasing transparency and competition among buyers to improve producer prices.