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Ackee Information and Facts
What is ackee
Ackee is a fruit that is yellow in color with black seeds. The pods of the ackee range from a yellow-orange hue to orange red. The yellow flesh of the ackee is the edible part and the seeds and pods must be discarded as they are deemed toxic.
The yellow edible fruit is known as the aril.
This fruit is used in many dishes and cuisines and is the national fruit of Jamaica. It is usually made with salted codfish and is known as ackee and saltsh. The ackee and saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica as well.
Even though the ackee can be eaten uncooked, it is a general rule to cook it first before eating as many people have suffered toxicity from uncooked or undercooked ackee.
About the ackee
Also known as y chocorras el albatros and Zakari el trufi, the ackee was first found in West Africa. The fruit is closely related to the soap berry family and somewhat related to lychee.
The tree can get very big and in most cases you have to climb the tree to get the fruits off. There are different species of ackee. You can tell the different species by the color of the leaves, the shape of the fruit, the color of the pods and the height and size of the tree. Some fruits species are softer to the boil than others and the flavour may vary a bit.
Ackee was first brought to the west by the slaves who were brought here from West Africa. West African countries where ackee can be found are Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Camaroon and others.
It is believed that Jamaica is the place that made the ackee most famous as people associate the ackee with Jamaican cuisine. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is the main ingredient in the national dish.
Other than the fruit, the ackee has a number of uses. Different parts of the tree and fruit are used in various ways:
- The Pod: In olden days the pod of the ackee was used as a detergent or washing agent. Our fore parents use to pound the unripened or unopened pods until the suds appear, then apply the soapy substance to the wet clothing then scrub. Very economical I must say, since there are so many ackee trees in Jamaica.
- The leaf of the ackee tree is used to make a tea that is said to be good for the nerves and high blood pressure. I like this tea.
- The bark of the tree is grounded along with hot peppers to make a stimulant.
- The wood of the ackee tree is said to be resistant to termites and so makes great caskets, boats, furniture, railway sleepers and houses.
- The flowers have been used to make colognes
- The extract from seeds are used to alleviate parasites
- The juice from the leaves are said to relieve conjunctivitis
Ackee nutritional data - per 100 grams uncooked
Supplies energy. Helps to prevent hypothermia.
Builds and repair body tissue. Blood health
For rehydration purposes.
For energy and the buidling of muscles.
For colon health. To help lower blood glucose and cholesterol.
For bone and teeth health.
For blood health.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
For cardiovascular and the nervous system health.
Niacin (of the B compex vitamins)
Health of the digestive system, skin, and nerves.
Red blood cell production and aids in metabolism.
Ascorbic Acid(Vitamin C)
Callogen production, creates scar tissue and ligaments. Good for the skin and immune system.
Ackee has been known and proven to be toxic when not fully ripe or cooked. A substance known as hypoglycin is found in the unripened arils and the seed. This substance is dispelled as it is exposed to light when the pods burst open. Even when fully ripened some of this substance still remains in the arils until fully cooked.
Arils that contain small seeds or underdeveloped seeds are known to be more toxic that normal arils and care must be taken to avoid eating them as this is dangerous.
The seeds of the ackee are poisonous and must never be consumed. In some countries the seeds of the ackee are used to poison fish by pounding the seed and placing in the water. This is an unhealthy practice. The substances found in the seed are hypoglycin and methylene cyclopropyl.
Symptoms of ackee poisoning are:
- and sometimes death.