A popular dry nut of God's Own Country, cashewnut kernels are either eaten raw or roasted and salted. For centuries a commercial export item of Kerala, cashewnuts are traditionally used for seasoning the sweet delicacies of the land's
cuisine. It is said that cashewnuts were brought here by Portuguese traders.
The cashewnut tree (
Anacardium occidentale) is popularly called Parangi mavu in Malayalam and most of the cashew processing units in the state are concentrated in Kollam district.
The cashewnut tree grows 12 m high and are mostly found in the tropical temperate regions of the world like - India, Srilanka, Malayasia,
Philippines, Brazil and Africa. The tree starts yielding by the third year of planting. During the eighth to the tenth year the fruit bearing capacity touches a maximum and the tree lives up to 30 to 40 years.
Cashewnut processing includes roasting, removing the
shell, extracting oil from the shell, peeling the kernel, selecting and packing the nuts according to quality. The nuts are available in the market at prices that vary with quality and brand names.