Ackee is a fruit that originates from Jamaica, and it has been a staple in Jamaican cuisine for centuries.
It is an especially important food item during the celebration of Christmas.
It has also been used to make jams, jellies, chutneys, and salsas.
The taste of the fruit ranges depending on when it is harvested during the year.
This article will explore what does ackee tastes like, how to prepare ackee, and why you should try eating more of this tasty fruit.
What is Ackee?
Ackee is a tropical fruit that is eaten in many different parts of the world.
The ackee tree is native to West Africa and was introduced to Jamaica by British colonists in 1725 as a potential food crop because it can grow well in salty soils found near the coasts.
It has now also been grown successfully on plantations inland, where citrus fruits are usually grown but require fertilizers unavailable locally.
Ackee trees have become naturalized throughout most of Jamaica’s coastal areas and valleys up into central hillsides which produce an average yield of 80-110 pounds per mature tree per year (roughly equivalent to 300 oranges).
There are many different types of ackees, but Jamaican Red Ackees are most popular for their sweet taste and bright red color.
In Jamaica, ackee is used primarily as a breakfast dish with saltfish and boiled eggs.
Ackees are also processed into canned goods and other food products.
The Jamaican national dish, Ackee, and Saltfish represent its importance at mealtime for much of the country’s population.
It is a popular breakfast food and also features salads. Its flavor ranges from almost fruity to nutty with an astringent aftertaste.
The Jamaicans believe eating Ackee on New Year’s Day gives them good luck throughout the year.
Is Ackee Healthy To Eat?
Ackee can be consumed as is or pressed into juice, wine, jelly, or jam.
They are considered to have blood-thinning properties that may help reduce cholesterol levels (source).
The red color of the pulp within the aril – skin surrounding the seed pod – indicates it is a natural astringent property used to treat wounds and diarrhea (source).
This fruit also contains vitamin A, C, E along with potassium and phosphorus; it’s also high in iron content making this one healthy snack option.
Ackee is also rich in calcium and magnesium, which may help prevent muscle cramps and relieve menstrual symptoms.
It is also a rich source of protein, fiber, folate, and thiamine (source).
Although ackee has many health benefits to offer it does have some side effects when consumed in large quantities; such as – diarrhea or constipation, itchiness from the sap-like liquid that seeps out of the pod while cooking.
For most people though these are mild side effects that go away quickly.
However, anyone who suffers from kidney stones due to oxalic acid should avoid eating this fruit at all costs.
Is Ackee Deadly?
Despite its numerous benefits, some people have claimed that ackee is toxic and can lead to death.
This fear has been around for a long time, but there is no evidence of it being true.
According to foodnetwork.com, “ackees have a higher pH content than many other fruits, and this can cause serious digestive problems for those who don’t know how to prepare them”.
Some report feeling ill after eating raw or undercooked ackees due to their high acid levels.
Others say they’ve eaten large amounts without any noticeable side effects.
The truth is that you probably won’t die from eating an uncooked ackee–you only need a few bites before your body starts releasing enzymes that break down the toxins to neutralize their effect on the stomach lining and intestines.
Is Canned Ackee Safe?
Well, yes. Canned ackees are processed to remove the dangerous lectin and other toxins in raw ackees that can cause serious illness or death if not removed before consumption (e.g., botulism).
So while it may be a bit more expensive than some of your other food options for breakfast, at least you know what’s inside those tins.
Why Is Ackee Illegal In The Us?
As ackee trees grow in Jamaica and the West Indies, importing ackee fruits or seeds may attract unwanted attention from US Customs officials.
Ackee is on a list of plants that are prohibited to be imported into the United States with few exceptions.
The reason for this ban is because it contains hypoglycin A which can cause Jamaican vomiting sickness (JVS) if consumed with unripened fruit.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, low blood sugar levels, and death in serious cases.
The only forms of ackee available legally in America are canned juice – without pulp -and dried powder used as a flavoring in baked goods like banana bread.
What Does Ackee Taste Like? Does Ackee Taste Good?
Ackee is an amazing fruit with a unique taste and texture.
It’s not too sweet, but it has just the right amount of tartness to make it interesting. It tastes creamy and not too acidic.
And it’s got a texture that is somewhat similar to scrambled eggs, but more custard-like.
The fruit is quite versatile and can be enjoyed in different ways.
It’s usually eaten as a breakfast dish and is often found on the menu at Jamaican restaurants.
It’s also used to make Ackee & Saltfish, which is one of Jamaica’s most popular dishes.
Many people enjoy it with oatmeal or boiled yams for a hearty morning meal.
You can even use ackee pulp (the pureed flesh) to make jam, jelly, or pudding.
Just remember: if you don’t like scrambled eggs, then you might not like this fruit too much.
But hopefully we’ve convinced you otherwise.
Ackee tastes best when paired with salt fish – fried plantain chips are a good addition as well.
Why Is Ackee So Expensive?
Ackee was introduced in Jamaica and Barbados by enslaved Africans at the time of colonization, so ackee is usually associated with Jamaican cuisine.
This tree-borne crop grows best on limestone soil and when there are wet periods followed by dry spells during its fruiting season; it can grow as high as 36 feet.
It takes about three months for an ackee tree to mature enough for harvesting from November through February or March.
The size varies but they average out between two to four ounces per fruit. Ackees will produce annually.
It’s a very time-consuming process that requires plucking and peeling each one by hand, which is why they’re so expensive when you find them at local grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
The Jamaican government has been trying to regulate the production of ackee since it became an export crop; some trees can now only be found on private property.
Ackees are also protected under Jamaica’s Forestry Act (2000) where harvesting for consumption or sale outside of the country is prohibited without permission from the Minister responsible for forestry.
Ackees are considered one of Jamaica’s national symbols because they have been an integral part of their cuisine for hundreds of years.
So it’s understandable that the Jamaican government is protective of this delicious fruit.
How to Eat Ackee?
There are several ways to eat ackee.
– Eat the fruit whole – No need to peel it, but you can if you want to get rid of the coarse skin and bitter flesh. If boiled or cooked with salt, they will soften up a bit more in texture.
Fruit is tart when raw so adding lime juice and sugar will help balance out flavors for those who like their food sweetened.
The liquid that’s left after cooking also makes for a tasty drink on its own – just add ice cubes.
– Chop up ackee and fry them with onions to make “ackees fritters” or “pattypan plantains.” They are then eaten as a vegetable side dish usually served alongside other fried foods.
– Make ackee into a soup by adding vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions to the mix with dried thyme leaves and then simmering it for 30 minutes before pureeing with either almond milk, coconut milk, water, or chicken broth.
Ackee is also used in full breakfast dishes such as “ackee and saltfish” which is a traditional Jamaican dish.
According to many Jamaicans, the best way to cook akee is to boil with salt and scotch bonnet pepper for about an hour or until they become tender.
This can then be served as a side dish or made into soup in the same manner as mentioned above.
The final step of cooking should include lime juice and brown sugar which will help balance out any tartness that remains after the ackees are boiled.
In conclusion, Ackee fruit is a rare and exotic fruit that has an amazing taste.
It is a great fruit to try if you are looking for something new.
I hope this article helped answer your questions on what ackee tastes like, how ackee fruit grows, how to eat ackee fruit and other important facts.