When walking the aisles of the grocery store, certain foods require knowledge to choose the best version. You may want ripe apples or a piece of steak that isn’t fatty, for example. While these things may be common knowledge, other things leave you relying on packaging to guess—like cashews. But with online shopping making more options than ever available, you can now find the highest quality jumbo cashews possible and make smarter decisions. Certain things may be personal preference, but there are also quality standards that can be applied to the decision. Read on to learn more about identifying the best cashews.
The “best” quality cashew may depend on what you are planning to do once you have purchased the nuts. If you are planning to cook, roast cashews yourself, or eat them as-is, you may look for raw cashews. These will have a slightly different color, smell, and flavor profile than something like a roasted cashew. If you’re not sure where to start, it may help to look for recipes similar to what you want to do to determine where to start.
Your plans for cashews may also impact if you buy in bulk or in smaller, pre-packaged containers. If you’re going to use cashews in a large number of recipes and eat them often, you may want to buy a large amount in bulk. But if you plan to use them sparingly, you may be more concerned about expiration dates and storage options to ensure your cashews don’t turn rancid before you get the chance to enjoy them.
Cashew Size and Wholeness
The size of cashews can be a good indicator of their quality, which is why official quality control measures often grade on a scale of kernels per kg. Larger nuts, often called jumbo cashews, tend to have more flavor packed into each piece. If you need to use smaller pieces, they can be broken up after the fact to create a garnish or cashew flour, but jumbo cashews should be bought when whole and large.
Mass-manufactured cashews will often contain a lot of halves, pieces, or broken cashews in what should be a bag of whole nuts. Often these are mixed in when pieces are overcooked, poorly harvested, or at the bottom of the pile and do not have the same flavor or care as whole cashews. If you do prefer cashew halves or broken pieces, buy cashews designed to be sold that way rather than settling for a bag of what are essentially recycled nuts.
The color of cashews may differ depending on whether they have been roasted or not, but it will tell you about the quality in either case. Cashews that have a more golden brown hue are often more flavorful than those that appear a pale, whitish-yellow, but a dark brown may be a sign that they were roasted in fatty oil, so be cautious of a deep color rather than a light and warm one.
Taste and Texture
Of course, for any food product, quality is going to be one of the main factors in deciding what is best for you. Jumbo cashews should be packed with flavor and creamy texture that add to your snacks and meals. A slight sweetness is always a good sign of freshness, and while cashews have natural salts, something too salty is likely using preservatives that take away from the quality of the nut.
Poor quality cashews are often reported as having a “fishy” taste, and poor cooking methods may lead to a burned flavor. The use of old oil can also cause this burnt taste.
Cashews are known for their crunch, and a softer cashew may indicate production issues that did not maintain the health of the nut.
Ethical Sourcing of Cashews
In addition to making sure your cashews are useful and delicious, you also want to look for the ethical quality of the nuts. Beyond the Nut relies on local farmers and entrepreneurs to farm, harvest, and process our nuts before sending them directly to you. This allows us to avoid the poor labor conditions and low wages of many cashew producers globally. When you enjoy our jumbo cashews, you’re guaranteed not just a delicious nut, but one you can feel good about.