Goa’s bounty: Cashew apple (Anacardium occidentale)
The cashew plant, introduced by the Portuguese thrives well in the warm and humid Goan climate. Cashew apples are not actually the fruit, but the enlarged stem of the cashew tree. The nut is said to be the actual fruit. Cashew apples come in different sizes and colours, varying from deep red to orange and yellow.
The apples are very nutritious and have many health benefits. Fresh cashew is an excellent source of vitamin C. It contains five times more vitamin C than oranges. It is also rich in minerals mainly calcium, iron and phosphorus.
It has medicinal properties and can cure scurvy, diarrhoea, dysentery and help prevent cholera. The juice of cashew apple is said to be a remedy for sore throats.
Although the cashew apple is rich in nutrients, the fruit is often discarded after removal of the cashew nut, because people are unaware of its nutritional value. The apple can be eaten raw and has a sweet astringent taste. They are also used to prepare juices and jams. The apple is also used in cooking and to produce alcoholic beverages like cashew wine and Feni. Feni which is 40 to 42 % alcohol is a double distilled product prepared from fermented cashew pulp/juice. The single distilled version is called Urrac and is 15% alcohol. Feni was traditionally used for medicinal purpose. ‘Neero’ is a clear juice obtained as a by-product during the production of Feni or Urrac. It is a very pleasant and refreshing non-alcoholic drink and is an extremely popular drink in the hot summer months in Goa.