How to Pick Fresh Ackee

Discovery Bay, Jamaica – Ackee and Saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish for a reason. It’s delicious! But when you don’t live in Jamaica canned ackee will have to do. Not that’s it’s bad because it’s not, it just that there’s nothing like preparing Ackee and Saltfish with freshly picked ackee.
While we were in Jamaica we were blessed enough to stay with a close family friend, Adwick, who is also Angela’s godfather. He has a beautiful property in Discovery Bay populated with all kinds of fruit trees, including two large ackee trees. (Watch the video below to see how his gardener Tim picks and cleans the ackee.)
The key to picking fresh ackee is that you need to wait until the pod has opened naturally and released a gas that would otherwise render it poisonous. (Never force an ackee pod open or you could end up with a sick belly.) After the ackee is picked, you just need to pull out the fruit in the pod, twist off the large black seed, remove the pink fibre and it’s ready to cook.
In the video Tim explains that there are different species of ackee, one that is very firm and takes long to cook, and another called butter ackee that is firm but cooks quickly. The trees in Adwick’s yard bear butter ackee and we made the most delicious ackee and saltfish that morning! It was so fresh and flavourful it made everyone’s toes curl. Jamaicans generally don’t use canned ackee because they don’t have to. So next time you’re on the island make sure to indulge in what is surely fresh picked ackee use to make your ackee and saltfish meal.
Click below to watch our video about how to pick and clean fresh ackee.


Comments (5)
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  • Jane

    Love these videos!

  • Pat

    thank you for this video. I always wondered what ackee was. Now I know. Hope to try it

  • Dimples

    Speaking as someone who also lives in North America and must also “make do” with canned ackee, I can attest to the difference. Yes, there is nothing like ackee picked fresh from the tree! The texture, the taste. Just. Yum.

  • Norma

    At age 74 I’m learning to prepare Jamaican dishes I enjoyed,but had no clue how it’s made. I left Jamaica a teenager to join my father– his wife couldn’t boil water that is a long story of survival that God. Thank you for making possible I have tried a few recipes with my daughter that loves to cook and I enjoyed them very much.

  • Tracy

    Thanks for your video about Ackee. I’ve heard so much about it, can’t wait to try it!