Cashews are believed to have originated in the northeast of Brazil, near the Equator. It is likely that Spanish sailors first introduced the cashew to Central America in the sixteenth century.
Later, Portuguese colonists brought cashews to territories in East Africa (Mozambique) and India (Goa), where its cultivation extended to Indonesia and the Philippines.
The cashew fruit consists of two distinct parts: a fleshy stalk in the form of a pear – also called the cashew apple – with a brilliant yellow or red skin that can measure from 5 to 10 cm; and a gray-brown colored nut (the cashew) in the shape of a kidney, which hangs from the lower end of the stalk or “apple.”
Today the principal producing countries of cashews are India, Brazil, Vietnam and Mozambique. Juices, syrups, preserves, wine or liquors are obtained from the stalk or “apple.” However, the main commercial use is the cashew nut itself. Cashews are marketed in the shelled, roasted and salted forms for use as a snack and as an ingredient (delicacies, chocolate, etc.)