Various stages of cashew processing from raw cashew kernel to crispy white cashew nuts in India
Posted: Jul 07, 2020
Cashew, known by its scientific name Anacardium occidentale is a tree which is native to Brazil. Later it is widespread across the world due to its trade value. Portuguese colonists were the one who started exporting cashew from Brazil over five centuries back. In India also the cashews were first introduced by Portuguese to Goa. From there it spreads all over the country. During the early 1960's commercial production of cashew nuts started and it became a commodity with a high trade value which makes the cashew most valuable goods in the export sector. Cashew cultivation now covers a total area of 0.70 million hectares of land, producing over 0.40 million M.T. of raw natural cashew nuts annually.
Cashew tree is a short, stocky, low spreading, tropical evergreen tree which produces cashew apple and cashew nut. It will flower once in a year during the month of November to January. Afterwards the fruit develops and ripen fully within 2 months. The fruit they produced is actually not its fruit but pseudocarp or false fruit whereas the nut is the actual fruit.
Cashew nut in its raw form contains the cashew kernel enclosed by a thick outer shell. These raw cashew kernels are soft, white and meaty. They turn crispy, tasty and creamy white upon roasting. This is reached by the process called cashew processing.
Best quality cashew processing involves various stages from collection of raw kernels to packing of roasted kernels. Let us see it in a detailed discussion here.
1. Sun drying:
Raw cashew kernels collected should be thoroughly sun dried in order to lower its moisture content for longer storage. Once the raw kernels are completely dried, it should be packed in gunny bags. Whenever needed, the stored raw kernels are processed further to get the palatable cashew nut.
2. Steam Roasting:
The edible part of the cashew nut is surrounded by a hard shell having corrosive oil which is toxic to humans. In order to get the edible cashew, the hard shell has to be softened. This could be achieved by steam roasting where the drums containing the raw cashews are connected to a boiler. The steam from the boiler is passed over the cashew for about 15 minutes and then it should be left undisturbed in the drum for another 20 minutes for proper roasting. The roasted cashews are then kept in open air for about 12 hours to ease the shelling.
3. Cutting the Shell:
Shell cutting is the most important process which needs highly skilled labor to get the whole cashews rather than pieces. In this process the roasted kernels are placed individually in a cutter operated manually. This process results in the production cashew with soft inner shells.
The cashew nuts with soft inner shells are placed in an oven with constant 60?C for 24 hours to prepare it for peeling. Later these cashew nuts are cooled at room temperature for about 12 hours to ease peeling. Now the soft shell is peeled individually to get the white crunchy cashew nuts.
5.Grading and Packing:
The peeled cashew kernels are grouped primarily into two grades viz., whole and pieces. Then they both are further divided into various grades based on their color, size and texture. Once grading is completed, they are again placed in the oven to make it even crunchier and packed airtight.
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