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Cashew juice is a type of beverage made from the apple of the cashew tree. The cashew apple is formed after the cashew nut is fully developed and the stem above it begins retaining liquids. As the liquids build up, a pear-shaped object resembling a yellowish to reddish colored fruit is formed, and this is what's called the cashew apple. When ripe, this cashew apple can be harvested and made into various different types of beverages and edibles, such as fruit juices, wines, preserves, and candies. In its raw state, cashew juice has a bitter and astringent taste, so it's often mixed with other fruits or sweetened with sugar during processing.
Technically speaking, the cashew nut is considered the fruit of the tree and the apple is a swollen part of the stem. Just before the cashew nut fully ripens, the cashew apple begins to plump up with retained juices. Ripened cashew apples range in color from yellow to red, and the cashew nut hangs out from the apples' bottoms in a grayish-colored, kidney-shaped shell. After the cashew apple and nut both ripen, they will naturally fall to the ground. When commercially processed, the apples and nuts are typically picked off the trees just before they fall by twisting them off at the top of the their stems.
Cashew apples can be eaten raw, used in cooking, or juiced. They are commonly used in fruit juice beverages, wines, jams, chutneys, and syrups. In some parts of the world, they are even processed into candies, or dried so they can be used in baked goods. Fresh cashew juice is highly acidic and contains large amounts of vitamin C. Since the raw juice itself is described as astringent or bitter, juices are often watered down, mixed with other fruits such as apples, or have sugar added to make them sweeter and more appealing.
The main producers and exporters of cashew juice are Asia, India, Africa, and Brazil, but cashew trees grow well anywhere there is a wet or dry tropical climate, as long as they get at least some water. Once picked, cashew apples need to be processed right away because at room temperature they can spoil within a day. The rapid spoilage is due to the yeast and fungi associated with the apple. To prevent the cashew juice from spoiling quickly, the apples are pressure-steamed immediately after harvest and then made into juice.
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