Jamaica: Ackee Fruit

The ackee fruit (Blighia sapida) is the national fruit of Jamaica and a key ingredient in the popular dish “ackee and saltfish.” In fact, we tried it on the very first breakfast, and second, and third. It wawas brought to the Caribbean from Ghana in 1725. Interestingly, in West Africa, ackee is mostly used for medical purposes and for soap preparation. In Jamaica however, it’s part of almost all national dishes. But it gets interesting – the fruit is toxic and can be deadly. if not harvested and prepared properly. The unripe fruit contains hypoglycin A and B, that can cause a condition known as Jamaican vomiting sickness if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms l include vomiting, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, and even coma. However, when the fruit is fully ripe and the pods have naturally opened, it’s safe to eat. Proper preparation involves removing the seeds and the red membrane surrounding them, then boiling or cooking the flesh until it’s soft and creamy. The fruit is pear-shaped and turns bright red when ripe. When cooked, ackee has a buttery texture and a slightly nutty flavor, often compared to scrambled eggs.