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< prev - next > Crop processing Nut Processing and Oil Extraction KnO 100177_A date like snackfood made from cashew fruit (Printable PDF)
Cashew, in addition to the well known nut, also bears a false fruit or cashew apple which is
usually discarded because of its hitter taste. In the 1980s a project in Honduras developed a
product based on the cashew apple which now has a flourishing market in North America.
In 1979 a small non profit NGO, Pueblo a Pueblo, was
set up in Honduras by Dr Daniel Salcedo and his wife.
Initially, the organization was mainly concerned with
assisting handicraft producers, and Daniel Salcedo
developed a strong marketing strategy which resulted
in the opening of a sales and distribution office in
Houston, Texas. This was unusual at a time when
many agencies stopped short of providing concrete
marketing assistance.
In the early 1980s, Pueblo a Pueblo set out to respond
to requests for help by very poor farmers around
Chuloteca in the arid south of Honduras, to process
and market their cashew nuts apparently some years
earlier, government schemes had promoted the cultivation of cashew by means of loans, and after
some five years, the trees began to yield and loans became due for repayment. Unfortunately, no
processing or purchasing system had been established to coincide with the first harvests and it
was reported that some farmers resorted to selling trees for firewood to meet their debts.
At that time I was working for the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama (INCAP),
and visited the project and provided technical advice which eventually allowed Pueblo a Pueblo to
train farmers in cashew nut processing and set up a production unit.
Cashew, in addition to the well known nut, also bears a false fruit or cashew apple which is
usually discarded when the nuts are processed because of its bitter and unpleasant taste. It was
suggested to Pueblo a Pueblo that the fruit might form the basis of a by-product which could
provide additional income and create work, particularly for the women in the community. Ideas
discussed included jams, wines, vinegars and semi-crystallised, dried fruit. At about the same
time, by good luck, Dr Rodney Cooke of the Tropical Products Institute was investigating cashew
fruit utilisation in Costa Rica, where there was a tradition of drying the fruit with sugar. The
astringent, bitter flavour cat the final product however, made it unacceptable to many people.
In 1982, Dr Cooke found a way of countering the bitterness by adding caustic soda and sugar
before drying the fruit and this information was transmitted to Pueblo a Pueblo. Trials were
carried out which proved encouraging.
Cashew fruit caramel
The process is simple and involves immersing the fruit in l% sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) for
three minutes, before thoroughly rinsing it in clean water. This treatment affects the waxy surface
layer which produces the fruit's bitter taste. (Recent communications with the producers in
Honduras have revealed that the caustic soda treatment has been discontinued and the final
product is still popular with the consumers.)
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