I had no idea that wine could be made from Cashew until I spotted a report from Sri Lanka about its popularity. In the West we use Cashew nuts as a snack and as a garnish or in its ground form as an ingredient for curries. The nut is actually a seed which comes from the Cashew Apple which is native to Northern South America.
The nut is a kidney shaped drupe that grows at the end of the Cashew Apple which is surrounded by a double shell containing a potent skin irritant chemically related to poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke can irritate the lungs. The Cashew Apple is extremely sweet and very juicy when ripe and shockingly astringent when not. It's supposed to taste a little like a sweet mix of Mango, Green Pepper and Citrus. The reason they’re not found over here is that their skin is thin and fragile, making it difficult to ship them but Health Food shops sometimes stock canned or bottled Cashew Apple juice.
The Cashew was introduced to Goa, India, between the years of 1560 and 1565 by the Portuguese and from there spread throughout South East Asia and eventually Africa. The Cashew Apple can be eaten raw, used in cooking and fermented into wine or liqueur – which the early Dutch traders apparently preferred to Brandy!
The Cashew liqueur and wine can be found in Belize where the main Cashew producing areas are Burrel Boom and Crooked Tree. A local winery, BelMer Wines makes Cashew and other wines from local fruits such as Mango. The wine is said to be sweet and potent, deceptively mild and alluring. It has a rich aroma and matches well with Oriental spicy foods.
If anyone has tasted Cashew Wine please let me know! As for Cashew nuts – here is one of my favourite recipes.
Prawns with Cashew Nuts
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg white
1 lb. fresh prawns (shelled and de-veined)
4 oz. cashew nuts
3 cups cooking oil
2 spring onions, chopped
2 slices ginger
¼ tsp sugar
1 tbsp cooking wine
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil
Mix the salt, cornstarch and egg white together in a bowl. Add the prawns and marinate for 1 hour. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil and add cashews, stirring until browned. Remove, drain cashews on paper towels and set aside. Reheat the oil in the pan, add the prawns and stir fry for 1 minute. Remove shrimp and drain on paper towels. Discard the oil. Add two fresh tablespoons of cooking oil, heat in the pan and quickly stir fry the spring onions and ginger. Add the prawns, stir in the sugar, cooking wine, salt and sesame oil. Add the cashews and stir until thoroughly mixed. Serve immediately