Every person who has been to a supermarket has had the same question run through their mind. “Why are cashews so expensive?” The fact that they’re so pricey will often deter people from buying them, or it will lead them to only buy them for special occasions.
The cashew often gets swapped out for it’s nutty neighbor, the peanut, which actually isn’t a nut at all. Peanuts are very strange plants with a fascinating history in themselves, but the fact of the matter is that they’re about a third of the cost of cashews, which makes them the alternative of choice most of the time.
The question of why a cashew is so expensive can be explained by answering another question, such as the one below.
What are Cashews?
Cashews are a nut, which is actually scientifically speaking, the seed of the plant from which it comes from. Cashews come from a thing called a cashew apple. The cashew itself hasn’t been a coveted thing for centuries because the natives of Brazil where the cashew apple often grows didn’t want to go through the trouble of harvesting the cashew itself.
The cashew itself hangs at the bottom of the fruit, and each apple only creates one cashew. That explains the cost a bit by itself, but wait, there’s more.The nut at the base of the fruit has to be hand harvested and set out to dry before the seed (the cashew) can be extracted.
There is Danger Inside
Not only are cashews rather rare in the fact that there is only one to every fruit that is grown, they’re also dangerous to harvest. Inside the soft outer shell lies a honeycomb-like structure. Inside the honeycomb is cashew nut liquid that is actually quite hazardous to those who come into contact with it.
Before a cashew can be extracted from it’s shell, the liquid has to be destroyed. Sounds a bit melodramatic, right? This is done through a roasting process. Even the roasting process is dangerous because the liquid turns into gasses that can severely irritate the lungs and throat of those around sometimes even causing death. Once again, melodrama…all for a little seed…or nut…whatever it is.
The liquid inside of a cashew nut is an anacardic acid. The acid will create terrible and painful skin rashes. Because of this, cashews are actually in the same family as poison ivy. The acid creates the same kind of rash. Isn’t that nice?
All in all, cashews are pricey because they’re in short supply and they’re a danger to those who muscle up the courage to extract these babies from their habitats to be consumed by people like you.