Ackee fruit: Ackee (Blighia sapida) is the national fruit of Jamaica. Ackee and salt fish (codfish) is Jamaica's national dish. Ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica; it has remarkable historic associations. Originally, it was imported to the island from West Africa, probably on a slave ship. Now it grows here luxuriantly, producing large quantities of edible fruit each year.
The ackee tree grows up to 15.24m (50ft) under favourable conditions. It bears large red and yellow fruit 7.5 – 10 cm (3-4 in.) long. When ripe these fruits burst into sections revealing shiny black round seeds on top of a yellow aril which is partially edible.
There are two main types of ackee identified by the colour of the aril. That with a soft yellow aril is known as ‘butter’ and ‘cheese’ is hard and cream-coloured.
Warning: Ackee contains a poison (hypoglcin) which is dissipated when it is properly harvested and cooked.
Jamaica is the only place where the fruit is widely eaten. However, it has been introduced into most of the other Caribbean islands (for example, Trinidad, Grenada, Antigua and Barbados), Central America and Florida, where it is known by different names and does not thrive in economic quantities. Jamaican canned ackee is now exported and sold in markets patronized by expatriate Jamaicans.
How to clean ackee
- Remove the seeds and the red fibre.
Ackee is a very delicious fruit and when boiled and cooked with seasoning and salt fish or salt pork, it is considered one of Jamaica’s greatest delicacies. Ackee and saltfish recipe
Ackee pod soap
During world wars there was a shortage of many consumer goods which sometimes included soap for washing of clothes. One of the substitutes used was the pods from ackee in a similar way as soap would be used.
The edible part of the ackee was removed from the pods. Suds produced while rubbing wet clothes with ackee pods enable those resourceful folks to get laundry as properly washed as if manufactured soap was used.