THE ACAXÚ STORY
Cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is a prodigious crop, native to northeastern Brazil, with excellent medicinal and nutritive properties. Its components are used from the production of sweets and cosmetics up to the creation of medicines for different ailments. It is a perennial tree which grows from 15 to 21 feet in height, its trunk branching out at a low height. It yields fruit as of its third year of age.
Its original name, Acashum, stems from one Brazilian indigenous dialect; from this name the crop’s Portuguese name, Acajum, and the English term Cashew, are also derived. The Portuguese colonizers of Brazil, impressed by the nutritional qualities of the fruit’s nut, took its seeds to India and thence introduced them to South East Asia and Africa, its production developing particularly in India, country which held a virtual world monopoly of this product by 1941. In the 1950’s Brazil stimulated the production of the crop creating experimental plots with the aim of developing bigger scale farms. In the 1990s and the beginning of the XXI century, cashew nut became one of the foodstuffs with a high world demand.
The fruit consists of a pseudo-fruit and a nut. The pseudo-fruit is a peduncle converted into a meaty structure, characteristic of the species, which develops and matures after the nut itself. The real fruit is the nut, localized in the external part of the pseudo-fruit. It is gray, kidney-like in shape, hard and dry, of some 1.3 to 2 inches in length, and contains the seed. The crop’s seed, rich in protein, has a high world demand given its nutritional properties, and is highly recommended in the human diet, usually eaten toasted as a snack, or else used in confectionery. Some claim the seeds possess aphrodisiac properties…
The pseudo-fruit can be used to prepare jams, sweet preserves, jellies, gelatins, wine, vinegars, juices, etc., as well as eaten fresh. In spite of its great potential, of this part of the fruit only 6% of the world cashew production gets processed, due to there being a firm market only for the seeds, which have a greater demand and are relatively non-perishable. There is scarce information and scant knowledge about the rest of the pseudo-fruit derived products.
The nut’s pericarp holds an extremely caustic oil, dark brown and pungent, called Cardol, which consists of Oleic and Linoleic acids, and is employed in the chemical industry for the production and processing of plastics, insulating materials, varnishes, medicines, insecticides and paints.
The imaginary and folk knowledge of the peoples where Cashew grows have conferred special properties to the crop. Its pseudo-fruit contains vitamin C, reason for which the Tunuca people of Colombia consider the fruit’s juice useful against influenza. Cashew is held as ‘the fruit of memory’ because it strengthens the brain’s activity and stimulates the growth and repair of the body’s tissues. In Natural Medicine the bark and leaves of the Cashew tree are used for the treatment of stomach colics, swelling, insomnia, neuralgia, diabetes, malaria, and pertussis, amongst the most important.
Cashew production at a bigger scale initiated in Honduras in 1980s, when its cultivation was stimulated amongst peasant, mainly women’s, cooperatives in the country’s southern region. After many efforts to consolidate the commercial viability of the crop, the cooperatives have managed to successfully market the nut. Even when the crop’s pseudo-fruit is also commercialized, there is still ample diversification potential.
We orient our work to the production of young, aromatic, crystalline, and well balanced wines made from exotic tropical fruits. Ours is the intention to develop technically and commercially viable options for the use of the Cashew’s pseudo-fruit. After a product development stage, the Acaxú line of wines was introduced.
Acaxú, our cashew fruit wine, is fermented from the freshest produce originating in the Namasigüe region of southern Honduras. It has been produced respecting modern oenological techniques to give you a wine with the rich flavor and aroma of its parent fruit. It can be drunk on its own, accompanied with cheeses or had with food. The dry and semi-sweet versions pair well with white meats and seafood, as well as with the Oriental style, more spiced foods. The sweet version combines well with the sweeter desserts. For fuller enjoyment, drink cold.