October 24, 2014

Since this week marks Jamaica’s 50th anniversary as an independent nation, I thought it would be fitting to feature ackee, Jamaica’s national fruit, as the Ingredient of the Week. As you may know, ackee is considered a fruit, but it’s cooked as a vegetable. It’s a key ingredient in Jamaica’s national dish, Ackee and Saltfish. There’s nothing like using fresh ackee in this recipe. I grew up in a house with a large ackee tree in the yard and, as I recall, it produced fruit year-round. So, I guess you can say I’m a little spoiled, though today I’m happy to use canned ackee, which is easier to find outside Jamaica.
 
Here’s some more information I found about ackee:
 
Ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica. It was likely originally imported to the island from West Africa, probably on a slave ship. Now it grows there luxuriantly, producing large quantities of edible fruit each year.
 
Ackee is derived from the original name Ankye which comes from the Twi language of Ghana. The botanical name of the fruit – Blighia Sapida – was given in honour of Captain William Bligh of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame, who in 1793 took plants of the fruit from Jamaica to England.
 
The ackee tree grows up to 15.24m (50ft) under favourable conditions. It bears large red and yellow fruit 7.5 – 10 cm (3-4 in.) long. When ripe the fruit burst into sections revealing shiny black round seeds on top of a yellow aril which is partially edible.
 
There are two main types of ackee identified by the colour of the aril. That with a soft yellow aril is known as ‘butter’ and ‘cheese’ is hard and cream-coloured. Ackee contains a poison (hypoglcin) which is dissipated when it is properly harvested and cooked. The fruit should not be gathered until the pods open naturally. In addition, the aril must be properly cleaned of red fibre and the cooking water discarded.
 
Jamaica is the only place where the fruit is widely eaten. However, it has been introduced into most of the other Caribbean islands (for example, Trinidad, Grenada, Antigua and Barbados), Central America and Florida, where it is known by different names. Jamaican canned ackee is now exported and sold in markets patronized by expatriate Jamaicans.

 

Fay & Angela

In our family cooking is a loving gesture. Our mission is to spread that love around the world by sharing our beloved family recipes. Our Jamaican recipes have been passed down for generations, are easy to prepare and very authentic! We know you'll love them. Enjoy!

Fay & Angela

5 Comments

  • Reply
    Kimmie
    August 11, 2012

    I’m American born, West Indian at heart! Love Caribbean food, saving to retire in St Lucia (home of my husband). I’ve just come across your website and cannot express how happy I am. Now hopefully my husband will enjoy my (your recipe) cooking and say “It tastes as good as my mum’s”! There’s hope for me yet!

  • Reply
    Kay
    August 22, 2012

    I absolutely love your blog…very creative and informative. This post in particular is one of the best postings I’ve read online about Ackee. I’ll be checking out your videos next.

  • Reply
    Yvonne
    September 1, 2012

    I enjoy your site. I am Jamaican and love to eat. So often, friends call me to ask how Jamaican dishes aare prepared because I also love to share my food.

    Just wanted to share with you that I tried making your Cornmeal Pudding, using soy coconut flavored milk. It was a trial, so I halved the recipe. So for those who are lactose intolerant, the soy coconut flavored milk can be used. Instead of using the total amount of milk and water, i.e. 5 cups total, use say about 4 cups total and it does not last as long, so eat up. It was good for me.

  • Reply
    reggie.dac.king@facebook.com
    January 13, 2013

    Have an ackee tree but it’s butter ackee which gets very soft when scalded for storage. How do you cook butter ackee?

    • Reply Cook Like A Jamaican
      Cook Like A Jamaican
      February 19, 2013

      Hi Reggie,
      If you’re going to use butter ackee, I suggest you fold it in after you’ve cooked the seasonings and let it simmer until soft. Don’t stir it much or it will get mashed up. Blessings, Fay

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