Top of the Class – W, S, or B?
For starters, cashews can be referred to as W for whole, S for split, or B for broken. Yup, it’s that simple! Just remember:
— W cashews are the most sought after and highest quality because they have not been damaged or split.
— S cashews are cheaper than wholes, and therefore are put into less expensive economy packages. After roasting, splits tend to be crispier than whole, and are usually preferred for candy bars, pastries, and other baked goods.
— B cashews are not evenly cut down the middle like S’s. They are the cheaper of the first classification, and are also primarily used in economy packages, recipes, or as a simple garnish.
Make the Grade
Cashew Kernels are graded into white/scorched wholes,pieces,splits,butts etc.. depending on the shape,size & colour of the kernel.The Govt.of India Act prescribes 33 different grades of cashew kernels. Only 26 grades are commercially available and exported. They are:
The next classification is a number, which refers to the amount of cashews per pound. For example, a standard grade for a cashew could look like: W 240. That means it is a whole (W) kernel that would produce 240 cashew kernels per pound.
Key point here: The fewer cashews per pound, the larger the cashews are. Therefore, it is preferred to have a lower number per pound for the best cashews.
W – 180, is the ‘ King of Cashew ‘ – They are larger in size and very expensive.
W – 210, are popularly known as ‘ Jumbo ‘ nuts.
W – 240, it is an attractive grade which is reasonably priced.
W – 320, are the most popular among cashew kernels and highest in terms of availability, worldwide.
W – 450, are the smallest and cheapest white whole kernels and hence the favorite among low priced whole grades.
Pass the Test
The last classification is based on the coloring of the cashew nut. What’s your favorite color? In descending order here’s how they rank:
— White kernels have a whitish ivory hue, and lack any dark black or brown spotting, making them the purest of the cashew grades.
— Scorched kernels have a darker reddish coloring than whites — due to overheating during roasting.
— Dessert kernels have been obtained by shelling and peeling the nuts, and have all the characteristics of a regular cashew. Scorched, discolored speckles, and shriveled kernels are permitted in the dessert schedule.
As you may have guessed, broken kernels are the lowest quality and have little to no taste enjoyed by their high-ranking peers explained above. Broken kernels actually vary in quality depending on whether or not they were broken naturally (preferred), or after the sieving process.
Standard specifications for Indian cashew kernels for export have been laid down by the Government of India under the Export (Quality Control And Inspection) Act 1963.
Scorched wholes are another grade of cashew kernels, which have a slight brown colour due to longer roasting. They have all the other characteristics of white kernels and have the same nutritional qualities.
Butts, splits and pieces are priced lower and are ideal for cooking, preparation of sweets and savoury snacks.
Quality Control and Pre-shipment Inspection
Exports of cashew kernels from India are normally subject to voluntary quality control and pre-shipment inspection. Inspection of cashews is being conducted under the consignment-wise inspection. It is ensured that the product is processed and packed as per the standards prescribed, by drawing samples from the finished product. Export of roasted and salted cashew kernels are also normally subjected to voluntary quality control.
Packing and Standard Weight
Cashew kernels in bulk are packed in four gallon prime tins with a net weight of 11.34 Kg (Or 25 lbs) in each tin. The filled tins are then vacuumised and filled with carbon-di-oxide gas and sealed. Two such tins of the same grade are packed in a carton for export. The net weight of each carton is thus 22.68 Kg. (50 lbs.). Some manufacturers also pack in tins of 10kg net to suit the requirements of buyers in certain markets. Recently,some exporters have started using flexible packs instead of tins as many buyers opt for new generation flexible packs.