Here is some basic information about the Cashew. It's interesting to see how beneficial they saw the cashew during the 19th Century.
'The cashew-tree, is a native of the Brazils, and other parts of America, where it grows to the height of twenty feet or more, in favourable situations. Lunan gives the following account of it in his Hortus Jamaicensis. The fruit is full of an acrid juice, which is frequently used in the making of punch. To the apex of the fruit, grows a nut, of the size and shape of a hare’s kidney, but much larger at the end which is next the fruit than at the other end. The shell is very hard, and the kernel, which is esteemed the finest nut in the world, is covered with a thin film. Between this and the shell is lodged a thick, blackish, inflammable liquor, of such a caustic nature in the fresh nut, that if the lips chance to touch it, blisters will immediately follow. The fruit is said to be good in disorders of the stomach; for the juice of it cuts the thick tough humours, which obstruct the free circulation of the blood, and thus removes the complaint. This juice, expressed and fermented, makes a fine rough wine, useful where the viscera or solid system has been relaxed. Barham, who has written on this fruit, says, " the stone of this apple appears before the fruit itself, growing at the end in the shape of a kidney, as big as a walnut. Some of the fi'uit are all red, some entirely yellow, and some mixed. with both red and yellow, and others perfectly white, of a. very pleasant taste in general; but there is a great variety, as some more sharp, some in taste resembling cherries, others very rough like unripe apples. The taste of most of' them is sweet and pleasant, but generally goes; off with an astringency or stipticity upon the tongue, which proceeds from it’s tough fibres, that run longwise through the fruit. When cut with a knife, it turns as black as ink. The generality of the fruit is as big and much of the shape of the French Pippins, and makes an excellent cider or wine.” Barham adds, that he has distilled a 'spirit from the nut far exceeding arrack, rum, or brandy, of which an admirable punch is made.
The flowers are very small, grow in tufts of a carnation colour, and are very o'doriferous. The leaves much resemble those of the common walnut-tree in shape and smell, and a decoction of them is equally efifectual in cleansing and healing old wounds.
The oil cures the 'herpes, takes away freckles and liver spots, but draws blisters, and therefore must be cautiously made use of; it also takes away corns, but it is necessary to have a very good defensive round the corn to prevent inflaming the - part. The inside kernel is very pleasant to eat when young, and, before the fruit is too ripe, exceeding any . walnut; and when older and drier, roasted, is very pleasant, exceeding Pistachio nuts or almonds; and ground up with cocoa, makes an excel
lent chocolate. . It has been observed, that poor dropsical slaves who have’ had the liberty to go. into a cashew-walk, and eat what cashews they please, ‘' as well as the roasted nuts, have been recovered. These trees are of quick growth: Barham says he has planted the nuts, and the young trees have produced
fruit in two years after. They will continue bearing fruit for more than a hundred years. Many are now flourishing in Jamaica that were planted when the Spaniards had it in possession. '
I have lately received from Jamaica cashew apple, bearing two distinct nuts, which was considered so rare a circumstance that it was preserved in spirits. It’s appearance is unnatural, resembling a lemon pippin apple, with two lambs’ kidneys stuck on the end.
Source: Pomarium Britannicum ©1822