Fruit of the month: Cashew apple

Many people know famous cashew nuts, but not a lot know about the much less popular part of the cashew tree, which is a fruit known as cashew apple. In shape, it resembles bell pepper, but in some photos, it can even be mistaken for a parrot since fruit is orange, red or yellow, and the part where cashew nut develops looks like a parrot beak.

Native to northeast Brazil, missionaries brought it to East Africa in the 17th century, mainly because of the excellent use of the tree’s wood. In The Gambia, mostly what you can buy on the market are cashew nuts, which are actually not nuts but tree seeds or the actual fruits. It can be broken from the olive green or brownish kidney-like shell representing the smaller part of the whole fruit, which also consists of the bigger part, known as the cashew apple. Yellow or red in colour and pear-like part has a thin, waxy skin and spongy yet juicy, astringent flesh rich in taste. Fruit is known more as wild fruit and is not commonly sold on the markets in The Gambia.

But nevertheless, this is a fruit you have to taste because of the rich and unique flavour. But be careful when consuming, especially if you want to open the shell of the nut. The cashew tree is a relative to the poison ivy, and the oil from the shell can leave allergic reaction and stains if it is to drip on the clothes.

The fruit can be used as such, to produce juice or jam out of it. But mostly, it is left on the floor as animal feed, mainly because of the more popular cashew nut production industry.

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