2 Ackee Varieties (2 Types of Ackies Plus Interesting Facts)

A bunch of ackee fruit, close up shot.

What is Ackee?

There is a list of names that the Ackee fruit is known by, such as Ankye, Achee, Anjye, Arbre Fricassee, Daki, Ishin, and others. It is an unusual pear-shaped scarlet fruit that has a slightly nutty but delicate flavor. It is grown the whole year in tropical evergreen trees. The Ackee fruit is mainly found in West Africa, Central America, Southern Florida, and the Caribbean.

The Ackee skin is reddish, with the inside pulp being yellow. It turns red and opens naturally when it ripens to expose shiny fleshy and bright or pale yellow arilli, each with a hard and shiny black seed at the tip.

National Fruit of Jamaica

In Jamaica, it is regarded as a dietary staple. The Ackee was brought to Jamaica in the 1700s, and its botanical name ‘Bilighia Sapida’ was given in honor of Captain William Bligh, the hero of the mutiny who is reported to have taken the fruit from Jamaica to the royal botanic gardens in Kew in England in 1793. It is the country’s national dish, and the world-famous Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, is said to eat Ackee with saltfish for breakfast. Jamaica is the world’s leading exporter of the Ackee fruit, with annual average revenue of around $15 million generated from the fruit’s sales.

Ackee is like a tomato and is used as an ingredient of many dishes in countries like Ghana, Senegal, and Cameroon. It is eaten raw, and it is fried or added to soups.

Types of Ackee

Almost forty eight cultivars of Ackee are known to exist and are divided into Cheese or Butter types. One variety is the normal Butter Ackee, which has moderate pulp hardness and a hard and soft pulp mixture. On the other hand, the Cheese Ackee has more flesh surrounding the seed and a smoother pulp texture than the other two. This variety outperforms the others in terms of quality. The Ackee fruit weighs between hundred to two hundred grams.

The Cheese variety is used more in the canning industry of the fruit. It is pale yellow and is more robust. The butter Ackee, on the other hand, is darker yellow and delicate and is considered more suitable for particular cuisines.

Health benefits and nutritional value of Ackee

The Ackee fruit contains numerous health benefits – High protein content, a good source of Vitamins B and C, Calcium as well as fiber and Zinc. Including Ackee in your diet reduces the risks of chronic diseases, especially breast cancer. It has a positive effect on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.

The fiber in the fruit prevents constipation, stomach cramps, and colon inflammation. The blood pressure can be kept under control because of the Potassium content of the Ackee fruit and, in addition, may help in reducing kidney stones and bone loss as you grow older. Even the risk of stroke is reduced.

And of course, the Calcium content (which is about 40mg in half a cup of Ackee) builds, repairs, and maintains strong bones.

Being rich in Vitamin A, the Ackee fruit is good for your eyes and skin, promoting cell growth. The antioxidant Vitamin C and niacin (Vitamin B3) all put together go a long way in providing extreme health benefits to those who eat the Ackee fruit.

Other uses of Ackee

The Ackee fruit has many other different uses. It is used as a laundry soap. The sweet-smelling flowers are used for decoration purposes and also to make scents. Even the wood of the tree is durable and suitable for use in construction and the manufacture of paddles, oars, and casks for sailing. It serves these purposes, usually in West Africa and in Some rural parts of the Caribbean islands.

Dangers of Unripe Ackee

The Ackee fruit, if eaten unripe, is very poisonous and is often the cause of death in Africa and the Caribbean. Especially among children when during times of shortages of food, the Ackee is consumed more due to lack of availability of other foods.

Keep in mind that you should never ever consume an unripe Ackee fruit since it might cause JVS, or Jamaican Vomiting Sickness, which can end in convulsions, seizures, coma, or even death if not treated immediately. The Ackee fruit is listed among the ten most dangerous fruits in the world.

Ackee novices should stick to canned fruit, which is the safest alternative. Assuming you’re eating them fresh, be certain that they’re ripe and that the only component you’re consuming is the arils. Never eat the seeds or anything else that appears to be safe to eat since it can contain harmful and poisonous bacteria.

Final thoughts

This fruit is unlike any other that you have ever eaten and you will ever eat. Known for its delicate flavor and buttery texture, it is particularly well suited for savory dishes. However, it may also be used in a variety of sweet foods.

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