Cashew production is a very lucrative business; it has a very high prospect in the global commodity market. The cashew tree is commonly cultivated for its nut; although the apple also contains essential vitamins and minerals. The nut is usually grey in color with about 3mm thickness. Cashew nut is usually exported in two forms:
- Whole or Raw Cashew Nut
- Processed Cashew Kernel
Cashew cultivation is very active in South America. India and Vietnam are the largest markets for Raw Cashew Nut (RCN), while Europe and America are the largest consumer and the most viable market for processed cashew kernel.
The quality of the cashew nuts is a function of several factors; the price of the cashew nut is determined by its quality. There are several quality parameters buyers and sellers of cashew nuts must be familiar with; they are the quality parameters, such as:
- Moisture content,
- Kernel Out-turn Ratio (KOR),
- Nut count.
- Defective rate
These parameters will determine your profit margin as a seller and enhance efficient purchase as a buyer, hence, it is best you understand how to determine these quality parameters when buying or selling cashew nuts. If not for any reason, learn it for profitability reasons.
Characteristics of Quality Standard Cashew Nuts
- Possess about 10 percent moisture content
- Usually have a kidney shape
- Possess a maximum of 15 percent defective rate
- Usually grey in color and free from scales or mold.
What you need to carry out the cashew quality parameter test
To carry out these tests effectively, you need the following equipment
- 1kg sample of cashew nut, usually gotten randomly from about 30 percent of the total bags of the cashew nuts
- Bowl or container (4)
- A pair of scissors
- Pin or needle.
- Electronic weighing scale.
When you have all these, you can carry out these tests yourself. Now let us discuss how to carry out test tests properly
How to determine the Nut Count of Cashew Nuts
The nut count is simply the number of nuts present in 1kg of the cashew sample you selected for the tests. It is a function of the size distribution of the cashew nut. The standard nut count of cashew goes thus:
When it is:
- 170 – 180, it is excellent and recommended for export
- 181 – 190, it is very good
- 191 – 200, it is good
- 201 – 210, it is medium or moderate
- 211 – 220, it is low medium
- 221 – 230, it is poor.
Count the number of nuts you have in your 1kg sample and compare with the above standard to know where it falls. Simple, isn’t it?
How to determine the moisture content of cashew
You need to know that all these quality parameter tests are carried out using that 1kg sample of cashew nuts you picked randomly from the bags of cashew in the warehouse.
The moisture content of cashew is very important for storage purpose. The recommended moisture content for cashew storage and export is 10-12 percent; this can be achieved by sun-drying the cashew nuts for 4-5 days after harvest. A properly dried cashew nut has a moisture content between 10-12 percent.
To test the moisture content of cashew nut, simply use this simple test.
Press the nut between your index finger and thumb, if you observe any liquid substance on your finger or thumb, it means the cashew nut is not up to 12 percent moisture. If otherwise, it means the moisture content is good for storage and export conditions.
This is a manual method of determining the moisture content of cashew nuts. You can as well use a moisture detector device for precision if need be.
How to determine the KOR and Defective rate of cashew nuts
The KOR test
The KOR test and defective rate tests are complementary tests. The KOR is the Kernel Out-turn Ratio while the defective test shows the degree of defects in the nuts. These tests involve some simple arithmetic and they are usually the last tests to be carried out. At the end of the test, you arrive at a figure which is usually compared with the International standard of KOR.
The International standard of KOR is:
- 48 – 55, it is excellent and recommended for export.
- 45 – 47, it is good.
- 40 – 44, it is average
- Below 40, it is poor.
To carry out these tests, follow the below procedure:
- Take the nuts that make up the 1kg; with the aid of the pair of scissors, cut through the nut to expose the kernel and other internal features of the cashew nut. Do this for all the nuts.
- After exposing the kernel, you would observe several defects. You would observe the good nuts, spotted nuts, premature nuts, and bad nuts. Scoop out the kernels with its skin or testa and separate these nuts in the 4 bowls.
- Only the good, spotted and premature kernels are used to calculate the KOR. You have no business with the bad nuts for the KOR test. Weigh the good nuts and record the result, weigh the other two, spotted and premature, separately and divide the result by 2 to get half of the two figures. Like, if the spotted and premature kernels are 8 and 10 respectively, your result after the division would be 4 and 5.
- Add the weight of the good nuts to the result gotten from the division of the other two, spotted and premature. Multiply the answer you get by 0.176 to get the KOR of the cashew nuts. Compare the KOR with the standard to know where it falls and the price to pay for the cashew nuts.
The Defective rate test
It is similar in procedure with the KOR test. The defective rate test considers all forms of defects in the nut. Defects include; bad or rotten nuts, void nuts, premature nuts, and spotted nuts; the good kernel is not used here. It has accepted standard with which you compare the result you get after the calculations. When your final result is:
- 0 – 15 percent, it is a standard grade and acceptable
- 16 – 24 percent, it is under grade and acceptable
- Over 24 percent, it is not accepted and rejected.
To carry out the defective test:
- Add the weight of the spotted nuts and the premature kernel together and then divide the result by 2.
- Add the result gotten from the above calculation to the weight of the bad and void kernels
- The sum of the results above is then divided by 10. Your result is the defective rate, compare with the standard to know where your cashew nut falls.
That’s the end of the tests.
At this juncture; I need to tell you how to get good quality results from the cashew nuts as a cashew nut seller.
- Harvest only ripe cashew from the tree; this reduces the rate of defects in your nut and conversely increase the KOR, hence, controlling a good market price.
- Avoid direct contact of the nuts and the earth; this discourages germination and defects.
- Sun-dry harvested nuts for about 4 days to enhance good storage life and also reduce defects.
- Package dried cashew nuts in jute bags only. It aids respiration and discourages bad defects.
As a seller, before packaging and storing your cashew nuts, it is best you carry out these tests to give potential customers the specification to attract purchase. Raw cashew nuts are sold on the basis of the KOR, hence, try as much as possible to achieve a good KOR.
Similarly, as a buyer, try to know and perform these tests before paying for the cashew nuts you want to buy. Do not rely solely on the quality specified by the seller alone, request for the 1 kg cashew samples and carry out the quality tests yourself to ascertain the quality of the nuts and the price to pay.
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