Cashew nuts on a white background
Food - Drink
Why Cashews Must Be Steamed Before They're Packaged
With their rich and creamy taste, it's hard to just eat one (or just even a handful) of cashews, but unlike other nuts that can be eaten raw or simply roasted, cashews need quite a lot of treatment to ensure they are safe to eat. Steaming or roasting is just one of the important steps that cashews need to go through before they're packaged.
Cashews, which are actually the seeds of an apple-like fruit, contain anacardic acid in their shells, which can cause an upset stomach, skin irritation, and can even be deadly in large amounts. To start production, the nuts are partially extracted from the fruits, then the fruits are sun-dried and roasted, shedding the outer shells from the seeds.
The inner seeds of the cashews are removed manually, then the nuts are once again roasted, or alternatively steamed, so that their toxic coating is completely removed. The process of roasting or steaming the nuts also eliminates the chemical urushiol, an oil also found in poison ivy that induces an allergic response in most people.