Are raw cashews actually raw?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

The term “raw cashews” can be a bit misleading because, in reality, they are not truly raw. When you see raw cashews being sold in natural food stores, they have actually undergone a steaming process. This is done for a very important reason – to remove the toxic resin called urushiol that is found in the double shell surrounding the cashew seed.

You see, the cashew seed is technically not a nut but a seed that grows on the cashew fruit. And this double shell that protects the seed contains a resin called urushiol, which is the same substance found in poison ivy and poison oak. Urushiol is known to cause significant skin rashes and irritations, and can even be toxic when ingested.

To make cashews safe for consumption, they go through a process of steaming. This process involves heating the cashews at high temperatures to remove the urushiol resin. After the steaming process, the cashews are then dried and shelled, leaving behind the edible cashew nut that we commonly consume.

It’s important to note that this steaming process is necessary for our safety. Consuming raw cashews with the double shell intact would expose us to the toxic urushiol resin, which can have harmful effects on our health. So, while they are referred to as “raw cashews” in the natural food industry, they are not truly raw in the sense that they have undergone a steaming process to remove the toxic resin.

In my personal experience, I have come across many people who were surprised to learn that raw cashews are not actually raw. Some mistakenly believed that they could consume the cashews straight out of the shell without any processing. This misconception can be dangerous, as ingesting the urushiol resin can lead to serious health issues.

To summarize, the so-called raw cashews sold in natural food stores are not truly raw. They have undergone a steaming process to remove the toxic urushiol resin found in the double shell surrounding the cashew seed. This process is essential for our safety, as the resin can cause skin rashes and be toxic when ingested. So, next time you come across “raw cashews,” remember that they are not raw in the strictest sense of the word.