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How Do I Roast Cashew Nuts?

Roasted cashew nuts can be eaten as part of a salad.
A raw cashew.
Cashews.
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  • Written By: Meg Higa
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
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The fruit of the cashew tree, widely cultivated throughout the equatorial tropics, is one of the world’s most popular nuts. It is used as an ingredient in savory cooked dishes, as well as other food preparations, but it is most commercially common as a roasted snack. They are relatively expensive due to harvesting conditions and their rather short shelf life. One way to mitigate that cost is to roast cashew nuts at home, an easy process. Raw cashews can be roasted either dry or wet, flavored or unseasoned, in a pan, oven or any other heat source.

Technically, the cashew is not a nut, but the exposed seed of a sweet fruit called a drupe. The cashew nut has more in common with pitted fruits such as peaches and cherries. Mass production of roasted cashews will normally cook the fully encased seed, making its tough outer shell more brittle, easier to break and separate.

The term dry roast cashew nuts is also somewhat of a misnomer. A wet roast adds additional oils such as butter or a frying liquid to the cooking process. Dry-roasting does not; raw cashews are scattered on a simple pan and placed over the heat of a stove or exposed to the heat of an oven. Heat releases cashew’s natural oils and it therefore cooks in its own wet medium. The addition of evaporative aids such as the circulating air of convection ovens is primarily to control the propensity of oils to burn.

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Roast cashew nuts are delicious on their own, but to accommodate personal tastes, they are often flavored. Basic enhancement includes salt and/or sugar, best sprinkled after roasting. Sugar, melted to a syrup or made into a caramel with the additional fat of milk, can coat the raw cashew prior to roasting. Other common flavorings are typically extensions of the two basic tastes, and can include pungent wasabi powder or a covering of chocolate.

A few additional points should be added if considering to roast cashew nuts at home. Immature raw, still green nuts contain a corrosive and toxic compound called urushiol. Proper roasting will destroy and inactivate it, but droplets of it can suspend in smoke and water vapor. On rare occasions it can irritate the lungs and cause a severe allergic reaction if inhaled. When roasting nuts in general, cashews do burn easily and must be tossed, stirred and monitored well during the roasting process.

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Discuss this Article

anon342713
Post 4

@disciples: You can find raw cashews anywhere you find bulk foods, including Bulk Food Warehouse, Whole Foods Market and Super Saver Grocery stores. They are typically found in large, clear plastic containers where bulk coffee, candy and grains are available.

I have always roasted my own and I also make my own cashew milk. I make everything from sweet to savory and from spicy to mild, depending on the event where I will serve them. If it is just for my husband and me, I tend to prefer slightly sweet (such as a light caramel or honey roasted) or a savory with fresh herbs (dill, garlic, onion, thyme or basil).

Ivan83
Post 3

I found a cookbook that showed me how to roast cashews and other kinds of nuts. It was something I had never tried before but now I do it all the time. You would not believe how many recipes and flavor variations you can come up with. I like cashews but I think that almonds are my favorite.

disciples
Post 2

Where do you buy raw cashew nuts? Are most of the ones you buy in the store already roasted?

I would really like to make my own honey roasted cashews but I don't know where I would even get the ingredients.

tigers88
Post 1

Cashew nuts are my all time favorite kind of nut and I eat at least a handful of them everyday.

I have experimented with a few roasted cashew nut recipes and I have always tended more toward the sweet recipes. Some use honey or sugar or cinnamon. I find that the sweetness is the perfect compliment to the richness of the nut, almost like a little piece of natural candy.

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