Best Cashew Grade


Determining the Best Cashew Grade

Cashews are loved around the world for their sweet, nutty flavor and crunchy texture. When purchasing cashews, you likely see terms like “jumbo”, “splits”, “pieces”, or “baby bits” used to denote size and quality grades. But what truly makes up the “best” cashew grade? We will analyze this question both from customer preferences and scientific quality criteria. We’ll also look at how processors can consistently achieve optimum cashew grades.

best cashew grade

"Superior" Cashew Grades - Customer Preferences Define

Cashew grades are based on the size, shape, and wholeness of the kernels. Customers willing to pay premium prices usually prefer the largest, most intact kernels available.

Jumbo Whole Kernels are the Classic Customer Favorite

The jumbo grade consists of full, large cashew kernels measuring over 3/4 inch (20 mm). These whole, sturdy kernels have the full nut shape and provide the satisfying crunch and wholesome nut texture that cashew lovers crave. The jumbo size also gives you the most edible cashew per piece. Hence traditional consumer perception puts Jumbo Whole kernels on top in terms of quality. These continue to demand higher market prices across retail and foodservice channels.

Splits Also Have Their Fans

While whole kernels draw top-dollar prices, cashew splits have their own loyal following. Splits are created when the cashew shoot emerges or the kernel breaks during processing into reasonably large 1/2 inch+ pieces. They offer the same cashew flavor and remain quite crunchy with jagged, irregular shapes that add interest. Food manufacturers often prefer splits for better coverage in snacks and confections. Price-conscious customers also frequently opt for lower-cost splits bags for daily nut snacks or recipes.  

Small Pieces Primarily Popular for Cooking/Baking

At the bottom of the price spectrum lies “pieces” grade consisting of small, broken cashew bits under 1/2 inch size. They lack the satisfying bite and appeal for standalone snacking. However the small size infuses well into cooking and baking. Pieces get evenly mixed into trail mixes, granola, cereals, cookies, ice creams, and ethnic meat/vegetable dishes. Hence cashew pieces find use in food processing sectors. Some confectioners also prize tiny “baby bits” for chocolate enrobing.

Science Determines Quality Metrics

While customer preferences focus on size and appearance attributes, scientific quality analysis takes a deeper look at composition, shelf life, and food safety factors.

Food Composition

The ideal cashew has 48-52% oil and 20-25% protein content. Higher oil levels enhance palatability but also increase rancidity risks. Premium protein percentages align with nutritional standards and provide better roasting performance. Analyzing cashews for moisture, sugar content, and minerals provides indications on grade and shelling process efficiency.

Shelf Life Properties

Moisture levels below 5%, plus low insect damage and adhering kernel particles indicate fresher stocks with longer shelf life. Careful moisture regulation is needed during cashew drying and storage to prevent quality deterioration over time.

Food Safety & Hygiene

Scientific grade evaluation also inspects microbiological properties. Kernels should test negative for pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella, E. Coli, Staphylococci. Mycotoxins from storage fungus or processing contaminants are also dangerous. Strict equipment hygiene, pest control, employee handling protocols protect food safety. Consumer trust and regulatory compliance demand cashew grades uphold highest safety norms.

Achieving Premium Cashew Grades

Producing the “perfect” cashew grade satisfying both consumer expectations and scientific quality requires control across the growing, harvest, shelling, and processing pipeline.  

Start with High Quality Raw Nuts

Like any crop, cashew quality depends heavily on tree health and growing conditions. Choosing optimum varieties, maintaining soil nutrition, preventing pest attacks are vital first steps by cashew farmers. Timely harvesting once nuts fully mature also ensures higher oil content and avoids field fungal growths.

Adopt Steam-Roasting for Cashew Processing

Steam roasting technology gives higher whole nut yield, retains nutritious oils, and prevents toxin contamination versus traditional drum or open-flame roasting. The process imbibes just the right moisture preserving integrity of kernels inside the shell during cracking. Steam techniques also extract valuable cashew nut shell liquid without wasting this heat-sensitive byproduct.

Invest in Advanced Kernel Grading Equipment

Sophisticated optical sorting machines, laser analyzers, and gravity separation systems let processors reliably grade kernels by size, shape, appearance at large volumes. They drive automation, efficiency and flexibility in preparing custom cashew grades differenciated by quality tiers. Advanced grading technology coupled with strict batch analysis protocols is key to delivering consistency in high-value cashew grades.  

Implementing the above farm-to-finish measures ensures both customer satisfaction with visual cashew grades and scientifically sound quality benchmarks. Now you know what truly constitutes “best” grade cashews.

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