Have you ever wondered why you can’t buy cashews in their shells? I mean, why is it that peanuts or pistachios are sold in their shells but cashews aren’t? Well, we decided to look into it and the answer is rather surprising.
Just like poison ivy, cashews are a member of the Anacardiaceae family. And just as many plants of that specific family, they contain urushiol – a strong oily chemical which may be fatal if ingested. In cashews, urushiol can be found not only on the leaves of the plant, but also between the shell and the cashew seed. In order to protect customers from this strong irritant, cashew nuts are removed from their shells before being sold to the public and that is the reason why cashews are not sold in their shells.
So why do we eat raw cashews then? (the article continues after the ad)
Actually we don’t. What we call “raw” cashews are not actually raw. Eating unprocessed cashews would mean that you would ingest urushiol which can be, as explained above, fatal. Therefore, before being sold, the seeds are roasted, steamed and/or boiled in order for the offending oil to be destroyed.