If you’ve been to Antigua Guatemala’s Mercado (Market) lately, you’ve probably noticed your share of exotic fruits and produce. If in season, marañon will certainly catch your eye.
A widely available fruit when in season, jocote de marañon, better known outside Guatemala as marañón, is a treat. You might know the fruit by its name in English, “cashew apple”. Marañón’s scientific name is Anacardium Occidentale.
This fruit, with origins in Brazil, is very popular here, though nowhere more so than in neighboring El Salvador – there, it’s known as “Fruta de la memoria” (memory fruit).
Health Benefits Of Marañon
Cashew apples are loaded with calcium, iron, and up to five times the amount of vitamin C than your average orange. It’s used to make drinks, jams, chutneys, and even alcoholic beverages. The cashew apple is known as an accessory fruit, as the seed grows outside, rather than inside the fruit.
Where To Get Marañon
Since jocote de marañon is available everywhere right now, I figured I’d pick some up to photograph and figure out later what to do with it. I later learned that this fruit is in season during Spring and Summer, which is why I was able to bargain the price down easily, from three for 5Q to four for 5Q.
Jocote de marañon looks very similar to peppers, but the nuts give it away
In season, you can probably buy cashew apples here for 1Q ($0.12) each
My wife picked up the best of the bunch. They felt a bit heavier than peppers – the seller advised us that when the fruit is too firm, it’s not quite ready yet – softer is sweeter. Once I got home, it was time for a quick photoshoot.
Such a colorful fruit!
You need about three cashew apples to make a liter of juice.
Close-up of the cashew nut
How Cashew Nuts Are Obtained From Marañon
While you may not be familiar with the fruit itself (it bruises easily, so it’s hard to transport to northern countries), you probably recognize its seed, the cashew nut, which sits atop the fruit.
Each cashew nut contains exactly one cashew. Now, before you attempt to crack the nut, you should know that the inside of the shell is very toxic – it has an acid known as urushiol, which is the same component as poison ivy, and which produces the same skin-irritant effect. The cashew nut must be roasted at a high temperature to get to the cashew inside – the smoke is also toxic, which will get rid of the acid and destroy both shells.
How To Eat Marañon
It’s best to peel this fruit if you want to consume it raw, as the skin has trace amounts of urushiol. In some countries, cashew apples are boiled whole for five minutes to get rid of the toxic.
Since I had no idea, I sliced the fruit, skin, and all, and took a bite. My wife cautioned me that it would “grab my tongue” – I had no idea what she meant, as it’s one of the phrases she uses that can mean anything. After taking a bite, I immediately knew what she meant by “grab the tongue.”
Since the seed is on the outside, most of the fruit is edible
While sweet (it reminds me a bit of mango, pineapple, and a bit of lime), the fruit has an astringent taste – it will dry your mouth quickly, and you’ll feel your throat slightly close up. A strange sensation at first, but it quickly goes away – all of which can be minimized if you peel the skin before consuming.
Marañon Juice Recipe
I found a Guatemalan jocote de marañon recipe online, which I adapted.
- Remove and throw away the cashew nut and peel the skin.
- Cut cashew apple into 1-inch chunks.
- Blend pieces with about a cup of water for every cashew apple
- Add a teaspoon of brown sugar per apple
- Squeeze the juice of one lime.
- Use a blender to mix it all well.
- (Optional) Strain the mix to remove the pulp.
It will be enough to make a bit over one liter of a delicious tropical drink. Serve over ice and enjoy!
Fresco de jocote de marañon
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Have you tried cashew apples yet?
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