The nutty truth.

Social media users are freaking out today for a pleasantly wholesome reason: Cashews grow on apples and, for some reason, this isn’t common knowledge.

Colleen Ballinger (you or your kids might know her as Miranda Sings, the YouTube megastar with bright red lipstick) tweeted a photo of cashews mid-growth with the caption “i was today years old when i learned that this is how cashews grow.”

Naturally, the photo quickly went viral.

And because the internet is the internet, it didn’t go unnoticed that the nuts look like grumpy old men wearing giant hats.

The photo is both hilarious and disturbing. But, seriously, what the heck is actually happening there?!

What Is a Cashew and How Do They Grow?

A cashew is technically not a nut at all—it’s a seed that grows on a cashew apple.

Cashew apples grow on trees, scientifically called Anacardium occidentale, that are native to Brazil.

Here’s how they get from the tree to your grocery store:

The apple, with the seed still attached, is picked from the tree branch. The seed is then pulled off, dried, and steamed by hand. Before the shell is removed, the seed must be frozen and boiled.

If you’ve ever wondered why cashews are so expensive, you have this laborious process to thank.

So what about the apple it grows on? You can actually eat it—but you may not want to.

The apple is kind of bitter and runny, so it does better in jams than it does eaten fresh off the tree.

This contrasts with the cashew seed’s rich, buttery, and mild taste.

Cashew Recipes

Cashew-Apricot Bars
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Caitlin Bensel

Looking for a great cashew or cashew butter recipe? We’ve got you covered: