Cashew, Pieces of Information

It was our second time in Palawan. Hello again kasuy!

Other than its main commodity, cacao is becoming popular crop in the province. Government authorities, NGOs and some big private sectors are joining together to populate Palawan and the whole country with the in-demand cacao tree.

cashew seeds

We did lecture and demo of cacao processing on the first day and participated in cashew processing on the second day.

When we said cashew, we often refer to nuts. The cashew apple is often neglected and it is indeed neglected in reality. Farmers harvest the seed (containing the nut) and leave the apple to rot. Mature cashew apple only last for few days. It is not a regular eat. It is edible but only few bother. In case, those can only consume a few. The seed on the other hand is longer lasting and commands a high price.

I was wrong. The seed is indeed longer lasting, but, the nut inside may not if improperly stored. Ants can pierce through a soft seed part and haul away the nut. The storage trick is not shared though. There was a story about this rich merchant who hauled a lot of seed during fruiting season. Off season came when he planned selling. All of his haul was infested.

The idea about seed broiling fumes being bad to native chicken is true. I thought it was superstition. The thick seed coat has toxic sap causing skin burns. I think, during broiling, this toxic substance evaporates and the chickens are very sensitive to it.

The seeds are steamed before nut extraction. Not sure why. The lecture and demo were focused on use of cashew apple. I got more information by asking them. Steaming may have something to do with removal of toxin.

Cashew nuts are divided to two categories. The halves and the whole kernel. The first is extracted by means of the traditional tool “kalukati”. It is basically a knife which the end is fixed to a fulcrum. A more appropriate description is a nut cracker which one lever is a wedge. It breaks the seeds to halves including the nut. Then it is force off the seed with a pointed tool.

The whole kernel need a different tool. The contraption compose of two wedges just enough to cut through the seed coat without damaging the nut. One wedge is then twisted to break it open revealing the whole nut. Another operation follows. The removal of hard testa covering.

The cashew nuts maybe sold as raw, roasted or fried. Others are preparing cashew brittle, panutsa and butter spread.

Cashew apple, which was the highlight of lecture and demo, can be processed to wine, vinegar, jams, prunes and cookies. They are promoting such to help increase farmer’s income.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Square Suman

These square blocks were suman. Judging based on how it unwrapped, it was suman sa lihiya. The wrapper was sticking strongly to cake. The other variant, which is suman sa antala (suman sa gata) has easier to remove wrapping. The color is usually lighter green.

square suman with puto and syrup sauce

Outside color is superficial. The mix of brown and green. Banana leaves are green. It turn brown when heated due to degradation of chlorophyll . Some pigments are transferred to suman during cooking. The lihiya (lye water), maybe, has something to do with it too.

Note: To put it simply, lye water is a strong alkali solution. It contributes to gummy and sticky suman characteristics. On the other hand, coconut milk has greasy effect. I like both, but often want somebody to unwrap it for me.

unwrapped square suman

The case is different with suman cassava. The color is light brown with no traces of green pigment. The color is inherent to cassava itself.

The taste confirms it. It was suman sa lihiya. The other variant has distinct coconut taste.

It was unique. A rectangular shape. It was normally round and elongated. Like the shape of hotdog and sausage. Divided to sections before pricking with fork and eating. Or, hold on one end and peel off like ripe banana. Making it square was a drastic move. People might not recognize what it is. The seller has extra tasks. Good if he is aggressive. He is going to do the explaining and offer taste testing. If not, the day might end up without any sale.

The incident happened to us when I decided to change the tabliya shape. For easier and faster molding, I shifted from pulvoron mold to polycarbonate. It really made the job easier but selling it was the opposite. People wanted the tablet shaped product and not the bar looking chocolate.

It is not bad to go against the common as long as you are prepared to handle the consequences.

There might be a place where they make square suman. Like the suman Antipolo which is wrapped with coconut leaves. The Tupig of Pangasinan. A rather thin suman with added coconut strips. The sellers are placing them over ember before handing to costumers. I call it inihaw na suman.

P. S. It came with a not well made syrup. The choice of raw sugar was nice. However, they should have put more effort in dissolving it all.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Purple Camote Chips

Violet Pringles. Interesting!

It is made of sweet potatoes. The violet sweet potatoes. Not the plain and not the yellow either. The variety with this color is rare. I am wondering where are they getting tons for mass production. Continue reading “The Purple Camote Chips”

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Getting The Coffee Cascara

I almost forgot this. The coffee husk. Now popularly of known as cascara. I am intrigued how they are making good drink out of this supposed waste product. The thing that is usually converted to fertilizer and charcoal.

Continue reading “Getting The Coffee Cascara”

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Frozen Cashew Nuts

When I was in Palawan, I bought several packs of cashew nuts for two reasons. As pasalubong and for use in our chocolate experiment. Half of it served the first purpose. Relatives and friends who received were happy. Where could we get such expensive nuts for free in our modern time. Almost everything should be paid for.

Another quarter also did. We used it for flavour trials, special giveaways and promotions.

The last quarter ended up in our own tummy. I deemed it not suitable as chocolate inclusion before the end of our first try. Trial last for about six months to a year because it includes shelf life approximation.

The crunchy cashew nuts became soft. The taste was still good but the soft texture decrease the original flavor impression to almost half.

I packed the remaining nuts in thick and sealed plastic. However it was not enough to preserve freshness. Vacuum packing could have done better protection. Freezing may also do the trick.

A recent post of Melissa Kirsch from lifehacker.com proved the freezing method useful. I know it has long been proven for many commodities but she had additional finding. Frozen cashew nuts right from the fridge is better.

We didn’t see this everyday but I am open to the idea. Ice cream is naturally cold but spaghetti is not. Yet I am eating both cold. I and my colleagues were usually eating cold pizza. We were putting the leftover in fridge for later. Think about this! Reheating changes the flavor while cooling preserves it.

I have a tentative trip to Palawan. I gonna buy and try the frozen cashew nuts.

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update after few days…

frozen cashew nuts

I found two packs of cashew nuts in food bin beside the refrigerator. All along I thought we consumed it all. Other packs that we ate were not crunchy already. These two for sure are in the same situation.

The article that I read might help restoring it back to its original. I mean the crunchiness from the very day we bought it.

I threw them inside freezer and patiently wait for two days.

This is it. Time for judgement.

It has a crunch now. However, not the way that I wanted it to be. Base on rating of 1 to 10, my score would be 5.

The article was talking about maintaining the freshness. Not restoration. It helped anyway!

Nut losses its crisp when absorbed appreciable amount of moisture. Freezer freezes it resulting to a more crisp texture. When a fresh nut is put inside the freezer. The machine does not only harden the residual moisture. It also prevents it from coming into food.

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The second pack stayed in freezer for another two weeks. After that,  the it has blend of disgusting odors. What do else I expect? It is a freezer built inside our home refrigerator. We are storing whatever we need to keep frozen in it. Turning the thermostat control up and down as needed. Higher during public market days and lower after few days.

I can barely perceived anything from the nut itself. I need to place it closer my nose to detect the repulsive smell. Thermostat setting was low, the time I got it. It gone back to its normal non-crispy texture.

I have a cold today.

The remaining nuts were mixed with the vegetable salad.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.