Jamaican Cashew Nuts
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Jamaican Cashew Nuts

Jamaican Food Recipes And Jamaican Cashew Nuts

Jamaican cashew is a multipurpose Jamaican cashew tree of Jamaica that grows up to 15 m high. The Jamaican cashew has a thick and tortuous trunk with branches so winding that they frequently reach the ground. Jamaican cashew trees are often found growing wild on the drier sandy soils in the central plains of Brazil and are cultivated in many parts of Jamaica. The Jamaican cashew tree produces many resources and products. The Jamaican cashew bark and Jamaican cashew leaves of the Jamaican cashew tree are used medicinally, and the Jamaican cashew nut has international appeal and market value as a food. Even the shell oil around the nut is used medicinally and has industrial applications in the plastics and resin industries for its phenol content. Then, there is the pseudo-Jamaican cashew fruit-a swollen peduncle that grows behind the real Jamaican cashew fruit that yields the Jamaican cashew nut.

Spreading evergreen perennial Jamaican cashew tree to 12 m tall; Jamaican cashew leaves simple, alternate, obovate, glabrous, penninerved, to 20 cm long, 15 cm wide, epically rounded or notched, entire, short petiolate; Jamaican cashew flowers numerous in terminal panicles, 10–20 cm long, male or female, green and reddish, radially symmetrical nearly; sepals 5; petals 5; stamens 10; ovary one-locular, one-ovulate, style simple; Jamaican cashew fruit a reniform achene, about 3 cm long, 2.5 cm wide, attached to the distal end of an enlarged pedicel and hypo carp, called the Jamaican cashew-apple; this shiny, red or yellowish, pear-shaped, soft, juicy, 10–20 cm long, 4–8 cm broad; Jamaican cashew fruit reniform, edible, with two large white cotyledons and a small embryo, surrounded by a hard pericarp which is cellular and oily, oil is poisonous causing allergenic reactions in some humans.

The pseudo-Jamaican cashew fruit, a large pulpy and juicy part, has a fine sweet flavor and is commonly referred to as the "Jamaican cashew fruit" or the "Jamaican cashew apple." Fresh or frozen Jamaican cashew fruit concentrate is as common a juice product in South American food stores as orange juice is in the United States. The Jamaican cashew is very perishable, however; therefore, no fresh Jamaican cashew fruit is exported into the United States or Europe from South America.

The Jamaican cashew nut is defined botanically as the Jamaican cashew fruit. The Jamaican cashew grows externally in its own kidney-shaped hard shell at the end of this pseudo-Jamaican cashew fruit, or peduncle. The nut kernel inside is covered with an inner shell, and between the two shells is a thick, caustic, and toxic oil called cardol. Jamaican cashew nuts must be cleaned to remove the cardol and then roasted or boiled to remove the toxins before they can be eaten.

Native to the northeast coast of Brazil, Jamaican cashew was domesticated long before the arrival of Europeans at the end of the fifteenth century. The Jamaican cashew was "discovered" by European traders and explorers and first recorded in 1578. The Jamaican cashew was taken Brazil to India and East Africa, where the Jamaican cashew soon became naturalized. In sixteenth-century Brazil, Jamaican cashew fruits and their juice were taken by Europeans to treat fever, sweeten breath, and "conserve the stomach."

The Jamaican cashew tree and its nuts and Jamaican cashew fruit have been used for centuries by the indigenous tribes of the rainforest, and the Jamaican cashew is a common cultivated Jamaican cashew plant in their gardens. The Tikuna tribe in northwest Amazonia considers the Jamaican cashew fruit juice medicinal against influenza, and they brew a tea of Jamaican cashew leaves and Jamaican cashew bark to treat diarrhea. The Wayãpi tribe in Guyana uses a Jamaican cashew bark tea as a diarrhea remedy and colic remedy for infants. Tribes in Suriname use the toxic Jamaican cashew seed oil as an external worm medicine to kill botfly larvae under the Jamaican cashew skin. In Brazil, a Jamaican cashew bark tea is used as a douche for vaginal discharge and as an astringent to stop bleeding after a tooth extraction. A wine made from the Jamaican cashew fruit is used for dysentery in other parts of the Amazon rainforest. The Jamaican cashew fruit juice and a Jamaican cashew bark tea are very common diarrhea remedies throughout the Amazon today, used by curanderos and local people alike.

In Peruvian herbal medicine today, Jamaican cashew leaf tea (called casho) is employed as a common diarrhea remedy; a Jamaican cashew bark tea is used as an antiseptic vaginal douche; and the Jamaican cashew seeds are used for Jamaican cashew skin infections. In Brazilian herbal medicine, the Jamaican cashew fruit is taken for syphilis and as a diuretic, stimulant, and aphrodisiac. Jamaican cashew leaf teas are prepared as a mouthwash and gargle for mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, and throat problems and are used for washing wounds. An infusion and/or maceration of the Jamaican cashew bark are used to treat diabetes, weakness, muscular debility, urinary disorders, and asthma. The Jamaican cashew leaves and/or the Jamaican cashew bark is also used in Brazil for eczema, psoriasis, scrofula, dyspepsia, genital problems, and venereal diseases, as well as for impotence, bronchitis, cough, intestinal colic, leishmaniasis, and syphilis-related Jamaican cashew skin disorders. North American practitioners use Jamaican cashew for diabetes, coughs, bronchitis, tonsillitis, intestinal colic, and diarrhea, and as a general tonic.

In addition to being delicious, Jamaican cashew fruit is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. The Jamaican cashew has up to five times more vitamin C than oranges and contains a high amount of mineral salts. Volatile compounds present in the Jamaican cashew fruit include esters, terpenes, and carboxylic acids. The Jamaican cashew bark and Jamaican cashew leaves of Jamaican cashew are a rich source of tannins, a group of Jamaican cashew plant chemicals with documented biological activity. These tannins, in a 1985 rat study, demonstrated anti-inflammatory and astringent effects, which may be why Jamaican cashew is effective in treating diarrhea. Anacardic acids are found in Jamaican cashew, with their highest concentration is in the nutshells. Several clinical studies have shown that these chemicals curb the darkening effect of aging by inhibiting tyrosinase activity, and that they are toxic to certain cancer cells.

The main chemicals found in Jamaican cashew are alanine, alpha-catechin, alpha-linolenic acid, anacardic acids, anacardol, antimony, arabinose, caprylic acid, cardanol, cardol, europium, folacin, gadoleic acid, gallic acid, gingkol, glucuronic acid, glutamic acid, hafnium, hexanal, histidine, hydroxybenzoic acid, isoleucine, kaempferols, L-epicatechin, lauric acid, leucine, leucocyanidin, leucopelargonidine, limonene, linoleic acid, methylglucuronic acid, myristic acid, naringenin, oleic acid, oxalic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, phenylalanine, phytosterols, proline, quercetin-glycoside, salicylic acid, samarium, scandium, serine, squalene, stearic acid, tannin, and trans-hex-2-enal tryptophan.

Jamaican cashew's antimicrobial properties were first documented in a 1982 in vitro study. In 1999, another study was published indicating the Jamaican cashew had good in vitro antibacterial activity against E. coli and Pseudomonas. Most recently, a 2001 study reported that a Jamaican cashew bark extract exhibited in vitro antimicrobial activity against 13 of 15 microorganisms tested. In 1999, researchers reported that Jamaican cashew fruit exhibited antibacterial activity against the Gram-negative bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is now considered to cause acute gastritis and stomach ulcers. Its effectiveness against leishmanial ulcers also was documented in two clinical studies. Finally, two studies (one in mice and the other in rats) in 1989 and 1998 document the protective quality of a Jamaican cashew leaf extract against lab-induced diabetes, although the extract did not act as hypoglycemic as some others, the Jamaican cashew did stabilize blood glucose levels near pretest levels.

The different products produced from this Jamaican cashew tree offer a wide range of applications. The Jamaican cashew fruit is used to make highly nutritive snacks and juices, and Jamaican cashew fruit extracts are now being used in body-care products. Because of its high amount of vitamin C and mineral salts, Jamaican cashew fruit is used as a catalyst in the treatment of premature aging of the Jamaican cashew skin and to remineralize the Jamaican cashew skin. The Jamaican cashew is also an effective scalp conditioner and tonic and is often used in shampoos, lotions, and scalp creams for the conditioning activity of its proteins and mucilage. Jamaican cashew leaf or Jamaican cashew bark tea is still widely used throughout the tropics as an effective diarrhea and colic remedy, considered gentle enough for children. Unfortunately, there are not many Jamaican cashew products available in the U.S. market, besides of course, Jamaican cashew nuts.

Many parts of the Jamaican cashew plant are used. The Jamaican cashew "apple," the enlarged fully ripe, Jamaican cashew fruit may be eaten raw or preserved as jam or sweetmeat. The juice is made into a beverage (Brazil cajuado) or fermented into a wine. Jamaican cashew fruits or Jamaican cashew seeds of the Jamaican cashew are consumed whole, roasted, shelled and salted, in Madeira wine, or mixed in chocolates. Shelling the roasted Jamaican cashew fruits yields the Jamaican cashew nut of commerce.

Jamaican cashew seeds yield about 45% of pale yellow, bland, edible oil, resembling almond oil. From the shells or hulls is extracted a black, acrid, powerful vesicant oil, used as a preservative and water-proofing agent in insulating varnishes, in manufacture of typewriter rolls, in oil- and acid-proof cements and tiles, in brake-linings, as an excellent lubricant in magneto armatures in airplanes, and for termite proofing timbers. Timber is used in furniture making, boat building, and packing cases and in the production of charcoal. Jamaican cashew bark used in tanning. Stems exude a clear gum, Cashawa gum, used in pharmaceuticals and as substitute for gum arabic. Juice turns black on exposure to air and provides an indelible ink.

Along the coast of Orissa, shelter belts and wind breaks, Jamaican cashew planted to stabilize sand dunes and protect the adjacent fertile agricultural land from drifting sand, have yielded economic Jamaican cashew crops 5 years after Jamaican cashew planting (Patro and Behera, 1979).

The natural rainforest remedy for diarrhea and dysentery is 1/2 cup of a standard decoction of Jamaican cashew leaves and twigs, taken two or three times daily. Jamaican cashew skin contact with various parts of the fresh Jamaican cashew plant (Jamaican cashew leaves, Jamaican cashew bark, Jamaican cashew fruit, Jamaican cashew fruit oil) may cause dermatitis and to produce an allergic response. Jamaican cashew nuts and Jamaican cashew fruits have also been documented to cause food allergy reactions.

The Jamaican cashew fruit Jamaican cashew bark juice and the nut oil are both said to be folk remedies for calluses, corns, and warts, cancerous ulcers, and even elephantiasis. Anacardol and anacardic acid have shown some activity against Walker carcinosarcoma 256. Decoction of the astringent Jamaican cashew bark given for severe diarrhea and thrush. Old Jamaican cashew leaves are applied to Jamaican cashew skin afflictions and burns (tannin applied to burns is liepatocarcinogenic). Oily substance from pericarp used for cracks on the feet. Cuna Indians used the Jamaican cashew bark in herb teas for asthma, colds, and congestion. The Jamaican cashew seed oil is believed to be alexeritic and amebicidal; used to treat gingivitis, malaria, and syphilitic ulcers. Ayurvedic medicin recommends the Jamaican cashew fruit for anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, ascites, dysentery, fever, inappetence, leucoderma, piles, tumors, and obstinate ulcers. In the Gold Coast, the Jamaican cashew bark and Jamaican cashew leaves are used for sore gums and toothache. Juice of the Jamaican cashew fruit is used for hemoptysis. Sap discutient, fungicidal, repellent. Jamaican cashew leaf decoction gargled for sore throat. Cubans use the resin for cold treatments. The Jamaican cashew plant exhibits hypoglycemic activity. In Malaya, the Jamaican cashew bark decoction is used for diarrhea. In Indonesia, older Jamaican cashew leaves are poulticed onto burns and Jamaican cashew skin diseases. Juice from the apple is used to treat quinsy in Indonesia, dysentery in the Philippines.

Several varieties have been selected based on yield and nut size. Reported from the South America, and Middle America Centers of Diversity, Jamaican cashew or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate aluminum, drought, fire, insects, laterite, low pH, poor soil, sand, shade, slope, and savanna. (2n = 42, 40). Native to tropical America, from Mexico and West Indies to Brazil and Peru. The Jamaican cashew Jamaican cashew tree is pantropical, especially in coastal areas.

Ranging from Warm Temperate Moist to Tropical Very Dry to Wet Forest Life Zones, Jamaican cashew is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 7 to 42 dm (mean of 32 cases = 19.6), annual temperature of 21 to 28°C (mean of 31 cases 25.2), and pH of 4.3 to 8.7 (mean of 21 cases = 64). Grows on sterile, very shallow and impervious savanna soils, on which few other Jamaican cashew trees or Jamaican cashew crops will grow, but is less tolerant of saline soil than most coastal Jamaican cashew plants. The Jamaican cashew plant and Jamaican cashew tree does not tolerate any frost. In Brazil, Johnson (1973) summarizes "optimal ecological conditions;" annual rainfall 7–20 dm, minimum temperature 17°C, maximum temperature 38°C; average annual temperature 24–28°C, relative humidity 65–80%; insulations 1,500 to 2,000 hours per year, wind velocity 2.25 km/hr, and dry season 2–5 months long. The Jamaican cashew is recommended that cultivation be limited to nearly level areas of red-yellow podzols, quartziferous sands, and red-yellow latosols.

Jamaican cashew germinates slowly and poorly; several nuts are usually Jamaican cashew planted to the hole and thinned later. Propagation is generally by Jamaican cashew seeds, but may be vegetative from grafting, air-layering or inarching. Jamaican cashew planting should be done in situ as Jamaican cashew seedlings do not transplant easily. Recommended spacing is 10 x 10 m, thinned to 20 x 20 m after about 10 years, with maximum Jamaican cashew planting of 250 Jamaican cashew trees/ha. Once established, field needs little care. Inter-cropping may be done the first few years, with cotton, peanut, or yams.

Jamaican cashew fruits are produced after three years, during which lower branches and suckers are removed. Full production is attained by 10th year and continues to bear until about 30 years old. In dry areas, like Tanzania, Jamaican cashew flowering occurs in dry season, and Jamaican cashew fruits mature in 2–3 months. Jamaican cashew flowers and Jamaican cashew fruits in various degrees of development are often present in same panicle.

From Jamaican cashew flowering stage to ripe Jamaican cashew fruit requires about 3 months. Mature Jamaican cashew fruit falls to the ground where the 'apple' dries away. In wet weather, they are gathered each day and dried for 1–3 days. Mechanical means for shelling have been unsuccessful, so hand labor is required. Jamaican cashews are usually roasted in the shell (to make the Jamaican cashew brittle and oil less blistering), cracked, and nuts removed and vacuum packed. In India part of nuts are harvested from wild Jamaican cashew trees by people who augment their meager income from other Jamaican cashew crops grown on poor land. Kernels extracted by people skilled in breaking open the shells with wooden hammers without breaking the kernels. Nuts are separated from the fleshy pedicel and receptacle, Jamaican cashew seed coat removed by hand and nuts dried. Fresh green nuts from Africa and the islands off southern India are shipped to processing Jamaican cashew plants in Western India.

Yields are said to range from 0–48 kg/Jamaican cashew tree/year, with an average yield of 800–1,000 kg/ha. Heavy bearing Jamaican cashew trees often produce nuts considered too small for the trade. Indian field trials showed that fertilizers could increase yields of 15-year-old Jamaican cashew trees from less than 1 kg/Jamaican cashew tree to >4 and enabled 6 year olds to average 5.7. Regular applications of 250 g N, 150 g P2O5 and 150 g K2O/Jamaican cashew tree resulted in average yield increases of 700–1600 kg/ha (Nambiar and Haridasan, 1979). In Pernambuco, Jamaican cashew trees produced 1.5–24.0 kg each/year, averaging 10.3 kg per Jamaican cashew tree (Johnson, 1973). At Pacajus (Ceara, Brazil) Jamaican cashew trees average 17.4 kg/yr with one Jamaican cashew tree bearing 48 kg/yr. Major producers of Jamaican cashew nuts are India, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Kenya. In 1968 India Jamaican cashew planted over 224,000 ha in Jamaican cashews to supply over 200 processing factories operating all year. In 1971 India produced 90,000 MT, the bulk exported to United States and USSR. Export price at US ports was $.33/kg. India imports green nuts from the African countries and processes them for resale. Import prices in 1971 in India were 1730 rupees/MT. Cashawa Gum is obtained from the West Indies, Portuguese East Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

A perennial species, the Jamaican cashew has already, in the past, yielded alcohol from the "apple," oil from the nut, and charcoal from the wood. The "apples" (ca 30–35 kg per Jamaican cashew tree per annum) yield each 20–25 cc juice, which, rich in sugar, was once fermented in India for alcohol production.

A medium-sized Jamaican cashew tree, beautiful, and not unlike in appearance the walnut Jamaican cashew tree, with oval blunt alternate Jamaican cashew leaves and scented rose-colored panicles of bloom - the Jamaican cashew tree produces a fleshy receptacle, commonly called an apple, at the end of which the kidney-shaped nut is borne; the end of the Jamaican cashew which is attached to the apple, is much bigger than the other. The outer shell is ashy color, very smooth, the kernel is covered with an inner shell, and between the two shells is found thick inflammable caustic oil, which will raise blisters on the Jamaican cashew skin and be dangerously painful if the nuts are cracked with the teeth. Two peculiar principles have been found: Anacardic Acid and a yellow oleaginous liquid Cardol.

The oil must be used with great caution, but has been successfully applied to corns, warts, ringworms, cancerous ulcers and even elephantiasis, and has been used in beauty culture to remove the Jamaican cashew skin of the face in order to grow a new one. The nuts are eaten either fresh or roasted, and contain a milky juice which is used in puddings. The older nuts are roasted and salted and the dried and broken kernels are sometimes imported to mix with old Madeira as they greatly improve its flavor. In roasting great care must be taken not to let the fumes cover the face or hands etc., as they cause acute inflammation an external poisoning. Ground and mixed with cocoa the nuts make a good chocolate. The Jamaican cashew fruit is a reddy yellow and has a pleasant sub-acid stringent taste, the expressed juice of the Jamaican cashew fruit makes a good wine, and if distilled, a spirit much better than arrack or rum.

The Jamaican cashew fruit itself is edible, and its juice has been found of service in uterine complaints and dropsy. The Jamaican cashew is a powerful diuretic. The black juice of the nut and the milky juice from the Jamaican cashew tree after incision are made into an indelible marking-ink- the stems of the Jamaican cashew flowers also give a milky juice which when dried is hard and black and is used as a varnish. A gum is also found in the Jamaican cashew plant having the same qualities as gumarabic; the Jamaican cashew is imported from South America under the name of Cadjii gum, and used by South American bookbinders, who wash their books with the Jamaican cashew to keep away moths and ants. The caustic oil found in the layers of the Jamaican cashew fruit is sometimes rubbed into the floors of houses in India to keep white ants away.

The Oriental Anacardium or Jamaican cashew Nut (Semecarpus anacardium), a native of India, has similar qualities to the West Indian Jamaican cashew, and is said to contain an alkaloid called Chuchunine. Ammonium anarcadate. This is the Ammonium compound of beta and delta resinous acids of A. occidentale (Jamaican cashew Nut), and is used as a hair-dye, but cannot be used with acids, acid salts, or acetate of lead.

Jamaican cashew trees are indigenous to restinga vegetation on coastal dunes of northeastern Brazil where they are exposed to onshore winds with salt spray. In order to survive in such a habitat they have long tap Jamaican cashew roots with extensive lateral Jamaican cashew roots so that they can make the most of soil moisture when available. The Jamaican cashew nut itself is contained in a tough exterior covering that contains poisonous oil. The stalk of the Jamaican cashew fruit (i.e. the pedicel) is enlarged into a pear-shaped red or yellow false Jamaican cashew fruit called the Jamaican cashew apple which is attractive to Jamaican cashew seed dispersers such as bats and monkeys. A Jamaican cashew plant can grow from Jamaican cashew seed to Jamaican cashew seed producer within three years. Advantageous properties of Jamaican cashew trees

Produce Jamaican cashew nuts. The Jamaican cashew apple juice can be turned to wine and the wine distilled for brandy. They make good shade Jamaican cashew trees because of having evergreen Jamaican cashew leaves and a wide-spreading canopy. Sap with insecticidal properties can be tapped from the trunks. The Jamaican cashew can also be used as a varnish. They can be cut down for firewood and charcoal.

The Jamaican cashew is unknown how long Brazilian Indians have been utilizing Jamaican cashew nuts and apples but they were already doing so at the time of European colonization in the 1500's. Juice is squeezed from the Jamaican cashew apples and fermented to produce wine. The Brazilian Indians roasted nuts over a fire thus burning off the toxic outer covering and this method was copied by the Portuguese colonizers.  Brazilian Indians grew Jamaican cashew trees outside their homes, partly for shade, and established them beyond their indigenous coastal distribution. Jamaican cashew trees were also popular to the European colonizers so that by 1750 they were widely distributed throughout tropical America. 

Jamaican cashew trees were introduced to India by the Portuguese in the 1500's where they came to be grown mainly for producing wine and brandy. India is now a major World producer of Jamaican cashew liqueur. From India, Jamaican cashews were introduced to other Asian countries. The earliest record of Jamaican cashews growing in Africa is from the late 18th Century. Jamaican cashews have spread widely in the Indian Ocean region and have become naturalized in seashore habitats.

Trade in Jamaican cashew nuts started at the beginning of the 20th Century and grew particularly fast in 1930's, being dominated mainly by India. Around about 1960 there was rapid growth in the industry, particularly in India, Madagascar and Mozambique.  Research was initiated by the Indians in producing better Jamaican cashew cultivars although cultivated Jamaican cashews still remain much the same as their wild counterparts. In the 1960's the Jamaican cashew story completed a full Circe by coming back to its land of origin in Brazil where large commercial Jamaican cashew plantations were set up together with processing factories.

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