Have you ever seen a cashew fruit or rather cashew apple? The cashew apple is actually a false fruit and the fruit is the seed at the end of the cashew apple which houses the cashew nut. I’m a fan of nuts and years ago watched a video about the cashew fruit. Because it goes bad pretty quickly, it’s not normally exported so one of the reasons I was excited about Panama was because Arran’s uncle has marañón (cashew) trees in his backyard. Yay!
We arrived in David, Panama at about 4am and Arran’s uncle picked him up. One of the first things he asked his uncle was about the cashew trees because Arran knew I really wanted to try the cashew apple. Apparently, his trees got a virus and stopped producing. Nooooooo!!!!
And of course, it was the time of year where there were no marañóns to be found in the market. But hope blossomed again because Arran’s dad and step-mom found some on their drive to the beach and we were going that way in a few days! Hope is alive!
On our drive to the beach my super power kicked in. We didn’t find the mother load that his dad talked about but I pointed some out on the way to the beach and on our drive home we stopped to gather them.
Not a mango tree laden with fruit but I will take it! The cashew apple can be either yellow or reddish in color.
Since this was on a narrow 2 way street with no shoulder, I stayed in the car while Arran picked the fruit. Or rather, threw sticks at it. You can see the stick he threw at the top left of the pic.
We came away with 3 cashew apples. Arran tossed some away because they had been eaten. I was like hello, we could have still had the nuts! But better some, than none.
The fruits of Arran’s labor. Arran says that these are pretty small.
So how did the cashew apple taste? It’s sweet but astringent. Have you ever eaten a persimmon that sucks all of the moisture out of your mouth? This is a milder version of it. It’s not something I would crave, I don’t enjoy the dry mouth but it was fun to eat. Usually the cashew apple is used to make juice or alcohol (I’m not sure if they chew this and spit it as well, I’ll have to ask the Brit). I didn’t get a chance to try the drinks.
For only 3 paltry cashews, normally people wouldn’t bother with them, but I’m not normal, lol. Inside the nut there’s a resin that’s a skin irritant similar to poison ivy so you can’t just crack the nut open and eat it. It has to be treated first. Most Panamanians will roast the nut but I watched a youtube video where they boil them to cook off the resin. So even raw cashews have been cooked in some way.
Arran’s uncle put together a fire to roast our nuts. So sweet! They knew how important it was to me.
It’s best to roast them outside because you’re burning off the resin.
We started with the cashes in a can, they heat up and burst into flames but his uncle took them out and put them on the grill directly, I’m guessing for better heat distribution. He cooked them until they burst into flames again and then let it cook for a minute longer to cook off the resin.
The finished product wasn’t pretty but they were extremely tasty. Normally I prefer raw nuts to roasted but since I’ve apparently never eaten a raw cashew, I really enjoyed these. They had a fresher taste than what we get in the grocery store. I would definitely do this again!
Checking another fun food experience off of my bucket list.