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The Labor Intensive Task of Roasting and Shelling Cashew Nuts

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First Published: 17th of December, 2017 by Patrick Carpen

Last updated: April 29, 2023 at 19:56 pm

The cashew nut is a rich and nutritious food product derived from the cashew tree. In the dry and desolate Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana, farseeing nature has sealed these high energy packets for those times when humans might have consumed the more easily accessible food. The cashew tree is a hardy perennial plant. It can survive the long dry seasons and grow well in the hard, dry soil of the Savannahs. Further, the cashew tree flourishes even with very little care and maintenance.

Cashew trees grow abundantly in the Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana, and also in similar environments in neighboring Brazil.

The cashew nut is a high protein delicacy, but preparing it for consumption is no easy task. Through a labor-intensive process, the nut is removed from its shell and made available for human consumption. In the year 2017, I visited some residents of the Rupununi Savannahs to learn how the cashew nut is roasted and shelled to produce edible roasted cashew nuts.

The process is described below.

Please note: The method described below is what is used by local residents of the Rupununi in roasting and shelling cashew nuts for personal consumption. Commercial organizations might have different and more refined methods for roasting and shelling cashew nuts.

Raw Cashew Nuts – This is what the raw cashew nuts look like after they are detached from the cashew fruit.

The raw cashew nuts are placed in a metal drum over a fire.

The raw cashew nuts in a metal drum over a fire.
A stick is used to stir the nuts about in the drum
A little girl plays nearby as her mother uses a stick to stir the nuts in the drum.
After about 5 minutes, the nuts catch ablaze in the drum due to their oil content.
The stirring of the nuts continues even through the blaze.
After about 9 minutes of roasting, the drum is overturned and all the nuts fall onto the ground. Water is then used to put out the fire from the nuts.
After about 9 minutes of parching over the fire, the nuts have been roasted black.
A stick is then used to crack the roasted nuts, and it is removed from the shell and placed into a container.
And there you have it – Beautiful Raw Cashew Nuts.

At this point, the cashew nuts may be eaten or further coated with honey and baked to produce a more palatable product.

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