Cracking cashews and making juice

The past few months, I worked almost exclusively with youth. The truth is they are often more motivated than my adult work partners. They are also quite helpful in my personal life. They answer my questions, solve my problems, and take me places I would not otherwise know existed.

Cashew fruits with nuts attached
A fifteen year old girl from my science club taught me how to make tamarind juice. A thirteen year old I cook with each week translated for me during my visit to the Fulani. Another thirteen year old introduced me to one of the few people in my town with a soursop fruit tree (one of my new favorite fruits).

Most recently, I was curious about cashews—the fruit and nut. Since attending the cashew conference back in November, I tried meeting with the cashew group in my community to initiate a few activities. However, each time we planned to meet, I was the only one who showed. Eventually I was approached by the groups’ officers, but it was instead to see if I could find them funding for a $140 million project.

My experience with kids is quite different. I taught one girl how to make cashew fruit juice and she brought her own fruit and invited several of her friends to learn as well. Later, I was approached by three more kids who heard about it and wanted to learn. After demonstrating the process at my house, the kids wanted me to come home with them to make sure they could do it correctly themselves. There, more than twenty other kids came to watch and even a few adults stopped by.

Removing the nuts' acid
During a different visit to my house, I learned something from the kids too—how to crack open the cashew shell. I had been gifted a pile of shelled nuts, but could not figure out how to get to the cashew inside. You see, opening cashews is more dangerous than typical tree nuts. When cracked, a strong acid excretes from the interior of the shell. Contact with skin causes irritation and burning.

The kids were more than willing to help. They explained and showed me the two ways of getting rid of the acid: placing them in a holed can over an open fire, or cooking them in hot oil. Then, once the nuts cooled down, we individually cracked them between large rocks. From the pile of shelled nuts I had we retained about two cups of deliciously fresh cashews.

Cashew nut cracked open
At the beginning of my service, I limited my work with kids, thinking that starting with their parents would cause some sort of trickle down effect. But working with youth really is not much work at all. They keep things fun, and are often more motivated to learn from me than the adults. Plus, they are just as willing to teach.

3 comments:

  1. Bonjour Lydia,

    Love this post. I find many of the same rewards working with young people.
    I had a bad experience with cashews while living in Panama. I didn't realize that the family I was visiting was roasting cashews and I walked right into the pungent smoke - I had rashes all over my arms, neck and face for many days afterward!
    I'm going to put a link to your post on our Edmodo site (like Facebook for students.)
    Be well!
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
  2. What is tamarind juice?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Mr. Crouse,
    Thanks for reading and sharing the blog with your students! I’d still love to Skype with the class sometime if possible. I’ll be traveling for the next couple of weeks, but will be available again after March 20.

    To address the tamarind question, it’s a tree that makes a seed-pod like fruit. It tastes to me like the sweet tart candy, only more tart. Here’s a picture of it : https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/lOn9BF9foUxJOeXgJQtZv9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

    ReplyDelete