The cashew nut tree flowers from November to January. From planting, it takes three years before it produces nuts. Importers from Asia and Europe journey to countries to purchase the cashew nuts during the high season.
However, you can find exporters from India, who ship out the nuts. Pricing is usually in US Dollars per lb. Prices are subject to regular fluctuations. The Cochin Port is the starting point of cashew kernels in India. From Cochin, they enter over 60 countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Middle East, U.K., and other European Economic Community countries.
Cashew Nuts Types
All cashew nuts come from the same tree (Anacardium occidentale L). Usually, the kernels undergo roasting, shelling, and peeling before they are ready for export. Different types emerge after grading of the peeled kernels based on color (whiteness) which yield various types of kernels such as white, pale ivory, and scorched brown. Additionally, grades depend on the shape of the kernels to give wholes, splits, butts, small white pieces, or baby bits.
You may find a grade stated as w210. What does this mean? The first letter ‘W’ stands for 'Whole.' Other alphabets include B –broken or butts, S-splits, or P-pieces. The number 210 indicates the number of kernels in one pound (lb.). In this case, one pound has 210 whole kernels. The w-210, also known as the Jumbo, will be relatively expensive due to its high quality. Kernels of w-180 are super quality.
Sometimes, you will find the grade stated as SW-32o, what does this mean? The first letter, in this case, denotes that the nuts are scorched. Scorched wholes are slightly darkened due to overheating during roasting or drying.
Some Grades of Kernels
Grade: A: White Wholes (W-180, 210, 320, 450, 500)
The kernels are white or pale ivory and have a slight broken mass, which is less than 5%.
Grade B: Scorched Wholes (SW-180, 210, 320, 450, 500)
Kernels are slightly browned due to overheating and still maintain the characteristic shape.
Grade C: Cashew Kernels and Desert Wholes (SWS and DW)
They are whole kernels, which look shriveled and scorched.
Grade D: Pieces or Natural Halves (SSP, SP, SS)
Kernels split evenly to give pieces used in economy parks, or as topping for ice creams. Besides, they are crispier than soft wholes. After roasting, kernels become scorched, or darkened, with over-heating.
Notes When Purchasing Cashew Nuts
When purchasing kernels ensure that there are free from molds, insets damage, rodent contamination, and thick outer skin. The acceptable moisture level should be less than 5% by weight. In summary, remember that the kernels are graded based on whether they are scorched or un-scorched. They may be unbroken or broken. Keep them in dry places protected from rodents and heat.