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Ackee Information and Facts

Updated on September 3, 2013
Cardisa profile image

Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger, and content creator.

Photo of the ackee
Photo of the ackee | Source

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.


ackees on a tree
ackees on a tree
ackees prepared for cooking
ackees prepared for cooking

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.


photo of ackees
photo of ackees | Source

Ackee uses

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

Nutrient
Quantity
Nutritonal Value
Fat
18.78g
Supplies energy. Helps to prevent hypothermia.
Protein
8.75g
Builds and repair body tissue. Blood health
Water
57.6g
For rehydration purposes.
Carbohydrates
9.55g
For energy and the buidling of muscles.
Fiber
3.45g
For colon health. To help lower blood glucose and cholesterol.
Calcium
83mg
For bone and teeth health.
Iron
5.2mg
For blood health.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
0.10mg
For cardiovascular and the nervous system health.
Niacin (of the B compex vitamins)
3.24mg
Health of the digestive system, skin, and nerves.
Riboflavin(B2)
0.18mg
Red blood cell production and aids in metabolism.
Ascorbic Acid(Vitamin C)
65mg
Callogen production, creates scar tissue and ligaments. Good for the skin and immune system.
Source of reference: Perdue University - Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Ackee Toxicity

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:

  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • convulsions
  • coma
  • and sometimes death.

Ackee and saltfish with cornmeal dumplings and boiled green bananas
Ackee and saltfish with cornmeal dumplings and boiled green bananas

Comments

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    • Cardisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Kelly, I could eat ackees everyday. As a matter of fact, I eat it everyday when it is in season...lol. I don't know how you guys manage the canned stuff, it just taste awful to me. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Rastamermaid profile image

      Rastamermaid 

      6 years ago from Universe

      Love it!

      Thanx Cardisa for making my mouth water and my taste buds tingle!

      I wish we could get fresh ackee here,have never run acrossed it. I've brought canned ackee but it's just not the same.

      I love ackee and saltfish for breakfast,it's simply wonderful.

      Respect!

    • Cardisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Angela, Jamaica is a beautiful place with warm friendly people and I can prove it......I am Jamaican...lol.. You would love ackee, it is really wonderful tasting. Thank you for visiting my hubspace and I hope you get a chance to visit Jamaica as well.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Super informative Hub -- I'd never even heard of ackee so you've definitely enhanced my food education! I'd love to visit Jamaica as my friends who have been there loved it! Best/Sis

    • Cardisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hey OM, it must be corned pork and ackees or the national dish of ackees and saltfish. More like a stir fry dish. I don't understand why foreigners call our meals bizarre....lol...even our cow skin soup recipe is listed on the top 100 bizarre foods list! Anyway, ackee is not bizarre, it is unknown by many people.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Fascinating info. I just watched an old episode of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods when he went to Jamaica. He tried a meaty stew dish (I forgot what it's called) with ackee in it and seemed to enjoy it A LOT!

    • Cardisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks Vinaya. It is tasty when cooked and we here in Jamaica love it very much.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      Never heard about this fruit. This is something new for me. Thanks for sharing. The fruit looks tasty in the pictures.

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