A serving of cashews in a small bowl with a leaf in the background
Cashews Actually Aren't A Nut At All
Despite their popularity, few are aware that many of the foods we call “nuts” — including cashews — are not actually nuts at all. Cashews belong to a category known as drupes.
The drupe is a fleshy fruit enclosed within a thin exterior skin that develops around a plant's seed. Coffee beans, peaches, and olives are also classified as drupes.
In contrast to a drupe, a nut is a single seed which grows within a hard shell or husk, such as a pecan, hazelnut or chestnut. Drupes and nuts are botanically defined as fruits.
Cashews grow on Anacardium occidentale trees while attached to a fleshy stem known as the cashew apple. They are steamed or roasted before packing as their skin contains toxins.
Despite not being nuts, cashews' culinary uses and nutritional profile align closely with true nuts, outweighing botanical precision and keeping them firmly in the nut category.