The ackee, also known as ankye, achee, akee, ackee apple or ayee (Blighia sapida) is a fruit of the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family, as are the lychee and the longan. It is native to tropical West Africa. The scientific name honours Captain William Bligh who took the fruit from Jamaica to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, in 1793. The English common name is derived from the West African Akan akye fufo.
There are up to as many as forty-eight cultivars of ackee, which are grouped into either "butter" or "cheese" types. The cheese type is pale yellow in color and is more robust and finds use in the canning industry. The butter type is deeper yellow in color, and is more delicate and better suited for certain cuisine.
Imported to Jamaica from West Africa before 1773, the use of ackee in Jamaican cuisine is prominent. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, whilst ackee and saltfish is the official national dish of Jamaica.
The ackee is allowed to open fully before picking in order to eliminate toxicity. When it has "yawned" or "smiled", the seeds are discarded and the fresh, firm arils are parboiled in salted water or milk, and may be fried in butter to create a delicious dish. In Caribbean cooking, they may be cooked with codfish and vegetables, or may be added to stew, curry, soup or rice with seasonings.
The ackee is prominently featured in the Jamaican mento style folksong "Linstead Market". In the song, a market seller laments, "Carry mi ackee go a Linstead market. Not a quattie worth sell".The Beat's 1982 album Special Beat Service includes the song "Ackee 1-2-3".
Though ackee is used widely in traditional dishes, research on its potential hypoglycin toxicity has been sparse and preliminary, requiring evaluation in well-designed clinical research to better understand its pharmacology, food uses, and methods for detoxification.
In fact, it is actually the whole pod that is the fruit, but when we talk about cooking or eating ackee however, we are referring specifically to the arils which are the only edible part of the fruit.
An evergreen native to West Africa, the ackee tree was brought to Jamaica in the 18th century most likely on a slave ship. The trees are found all over the island with Clarendon and St. Elizabeth being the main growing regions.
On a drive through Kingston one day, my mom and I noted that almost all the yards along the main road on Washington Boulevard had at least one ackee tree along with a breadfruit tree and/or a pear (avocado) tree (what a blessing when all of those are bearing! ?)
Please tell people that the ackee fruit should not be eaten if it is unripe, nor should the seeds ever be consumed. The edible section is poisonous when it is not ripe, and all other parts of the fruit are always poisonous. The fruit is ripe when it is fully opened, exposing the seeds on the very tip.
In Jamaica, the ackee fruit is a mixed blessing. Though originally native to West Africa, it migrated to Jamaica in 1778 and is now the country's national fruit. If improperly eaten, though, ackee can cause what has been dubbed the Jamaican Vomiting Sickness — which, other than the self-explanatory symptoms, can lead to coma or death. Unripe ackee fruit contains a poison called hypoglycin, so preparers must be careful to wait until the fruit's protective pods turn red and open naturally. Once open, the only edible portion is the yellow arilli, which surround always-toxic black seeds. With all that risk comes a delicious payoff — Jamaica's national dish is ackee with codfish.
Hypoglycin A is a heat stable toxin that occurs in ackee fruit, a tropical fruit used in Caribbean cuisine. Although native to West Africa, ackee fruit is found in south Florida, Central and South America, and many Caribbean countries.
The edible part of a fully ripe, properly processed ackee fruit is safe to eat. Unripe fruit, and the rind and seeds of ripe fruit, are never safe to eat because they can contain dangerous amounts of hypoglycin A.
A ripe ackee fruit is about 4 inches long. The rind of the ripe fruit is yellow with an overlay of bright red and three seams. As the fruit ripens, it splits open along the seams into three sections revealing the edible part of the fruit, the fleshy, pale yellow arils. At the top of the arils is a round, black, glossy, hard seed. Between the seed and each aril is a pinkish membrane (raphe).
Most processors will buy fruit that is unopened or just beginning to split along the seams. They then typically spread the fruit out on ripening racks to let it finish ripening. Processing staff monitor the fruit, looking for ackee that has split wide open and is ready for processing. If the fruit does not ripen by splitting fully open within three to four days, the fruit is discarded.
When ackee fruit is ripe and splits wide open, there is a dramatic, rapid loss of hypoglycin A in the arils and the raphe. Processors will then remove the black seeds and raphe. Although completely removing the raphe may not always be possible, the amount of hypoglycin A in the raphe is negligible if the fruit has fully ripened.
Slave traders brought Ackee (Blighia Sapida) from Africa to the Caribbean on their ships during the eighteenth century. It became very popular in Jamaican as a cheap source of protein. The national dish of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish, which are typically served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is customary to soak the salted cod overnight to remove their saltiness before serving it with the ackee.
The fruit is ready to eat when the red pod splits open naturally exposing 3-4 creamy yellow flesh topped by 3 shiny black seeds. To prepare the ackee for cooking, discard the pod, black seeds, and red inner membranes, and rinse the remaining yellow flesh. The yellow flesh is now ready to be boiled.
Ackee arrived in the mid-1700s from Ghana, most likely on a slave ship. The name ackee is identical to its Ghanaian Twi equivalent, ankye. The ackee coniferous tree grows here, reaching heights of 50 feet (15.24 meters) and bearing bunches of enormous red pepper-like fruit. When the fruit is fully mature, it breaks apart to reveal three or four cream-colored arilli on top of a bed of enormous, lustrous black seeds. Vegetable Brain is a common name for the arilli because they resemble a brain. This is the part you can eat. Slave traders used it as an inexpensive source of protein for their captives. The slaves preferred fruit over meat, so it became a staple of their diet. Today, ackee is enjoyed around the world.
Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, and obtaining it from an amazing fruit such as ackee is an even better idea! Protein is a necessary nutrient for our bodies since it is a building component for our cells, muscles, and other vital organs. People do not always praise Ackee for its high protein content, but as a fruit, it may contain a significant amount.
Many fruits and vegetables, including ackee, contain vitamin C, an essential vitamin. Ackee has a lot of ascorbic acids, which may help our immune system by encouraging the growth of white blood cells and its antioxidant powers for the prevention of cellular and chronic diseases. The body requires vitamin C to form muscles, tissues, and blood vessels, as it is an essential component of collagen.
I first saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, green onion, thyme, and tomatoes. Open the can of ackee and add to the cooked vegetables, be very careful to gently stir ackee because they are very soft and delicate. Stir to coat, adding salt and scotch bonnet pepper, and allow to cook until flavors blend, about 3 minutes.
Ackee is a fruit-producing plant. The Caribbean, West Africa, Central America, and southern Florida are all home to it. Jamaicans eat ripe ackee fruit as a mainstay of their diet. Unripe ackee fruit, on the other hand, is extremely poisonous.
Unripe ackee is a tasty fruit with a thick red covering that forms a pod but opens up to reveal a lovely petal-like shape with 3 or 4 yellow prongs topped with a single black seed as the fruit ripens.
If you get canned ackee, ensure that you drain it completely before use, as it is usually preserved in brine despite being already cooked. After adding it to whatever you are cooking, stir the dish only once so as not to break up the flesh.
Note: Until the pod of the fresh ackee is opened naturally on the tree, exposing the yellow flesh it is poisonous! Also, the red inner membrane has to be discarded as well. Only the yellow flesh is fit for food. Thankfully purchasing the canned ackee makes sure you are getting ackee that is safe to eat!
CAUTION: Most of the ackee fruit is not edible; only the fleshy pulp (aril) attached to fully developed, inedible seeds may be eaten when fruit is picked at the right stage of development and prepared properly. The fruit must only be picked after the fruit has naturally opened (split; sometimes called awned). All parts of the immature (unripe) or overripe fruit are highly poisonous (hypoglycin A and B toxin). The red tissue and veins that attach the aril to the seed must be removed before eating properly harvested fruit.
Recommendation: Although the foliage and bright red fruit of ackee are beautiful, they are not recommended for home plantings by anyone unfamiliar with the fruit of this tree. In addition, children and adults unfamiliar with the fruit must be kept from consuming the fruit if it is accidentally picked at an improper stage of development. This publication is intended to educate the general public on this fruit and provide cultural information to those intimately familiar with this fruit. This publication is not an endorsement for planting ackee in the home landscape.
There are a number of locally recognized types of ackee: regular (moderate pulp hardness); hard (hard pulp); and soft, sometimes call butter ackee. Other selections are called "cheese." These have more flesh around the seed, and the pulp has a smooth texture. They are considered superior to the more common forms. 781b155fdc