Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)

They are also rich in vitamins and dietary minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. Some scientists consider amaranth the crop of the future. Besides being highly nutritive, it is easy to grow, can withstand droughts, produces a large quantity of seeds, and requires very little fuel to cook with.

Several species of Amaranthus, including A. cruentus, A. blitum, and A. tricolor, are cultivated for their leaves. In tropical Asia, the leaves and stems are used as a cooked or steamed vegetable in many savory side dishes or as an ingredient in soups or stir-fries. The roots are also eaten. They are cooked and often served with tamarind, tomatoes, and chili sauce.

Since the plant is not a true grass, amaranth seeds contain no gluten, unlike most other common grains, which are in the family Poaceae.

Description. The cashew apple is a small, bushy, evergreen tree, 6-10 m (20-33 ft) tall, often with a twisted trunk. Alternate leaves spirally arranged or in terminal clusters. Blades obovate to oval, 10-20 cm (4-8 in) long by 5-10 cm (2-4 in) wide. Flowers in terminal panicles 15-25 cm (6-10 in) long. Each flower small, reddish with 5 pointed petals. Fruits are the well-known cashew nuts, which are botanically drupes. The kidney-shaped fruit consists of a double shell that contains an allergenic phenolic acid and an edible seed kernel. The cashew apple, which is botanically a pseudofruit, is formed by the receptacle of the cashew flower. When ripe it forms the red or yellow, pearshaped, 5-12-cm-long (2-5 in) cashew apple, with fibrous, juicy, and astringent pulp. The flavor of the yellow flesh ranges from subacid to fairly sweet.

Origin and Distribution. The cashew apple is native to dry areas of eastern tropical Brazil. It grows naturally in semideciduous and caatinga dry forests. In about 1560 the tree was brought to Goa, India, by Portuguese traders. From there it spread to Southeast Asia and Africa.

Food uses. The succulent cashew apple is sometimes eaten fresh but usually made into juice that is very popular in Latin America. The juice is also fermented to produce an aromatic wine. In Goa, the fermented juice is distilled into a brandy called feni. The seed kernel, which is produced by removing the toxic shell



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