Ackee is in season again, and today we bought six dozen of them. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, and although it ranks #3 on the Top 10 Most Dangerous Foods on Time.com (2010), it is numero uno for most Jamaicans.Ripe ackee is edible, however, unripen ackee contains toxin hypoglycin A (found in the arils and seeds) and toxin hypoglycin B (found only in the seeds). These toxins cause hypoglycemia (lowering of the blood sugar), vomitting, convulsions, coma and death. I am not afraid of eating ackee, as a matter of fact, my paternal grandmother told me that when she was a child, she used to eat the ripe ackee arils raw.
Ackee is not only used for food in Jamaica, it has other purposes and is utilized as soap and as a pesticide. You may read more about this in an article published in our newspaper entitled “Ackee – More Than Just Food“.
When buying ackee, make sure to examine them thoroughly since most vendors will mix freshly picked pods with almost-withered pods.While cleaning our ackee, I’m happy to find a pod with four arils. There’s nothing lucky about this, it just makes me smile while I proceed with this task. (Most ackee pods contain three arils).And then as I continue cleaning the ackee, I absent mindedly throw a few good ackee arils into the bag with the pods, and place empty pods into the arils pile. Ha ha ha ha, we all seem to do this at some time or the other.In Jamaica, ackee is eaten by everyone – adults and children alike; we however do not encourage lactating mothers to consume it.
As soon as I’m finished cleaning our ackees, we’re going to prepare ackee and codfish later on.A wonderful thing about ackee is that as a plant food, it has no cholesterol. Cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin, as plants do not make this substance. Therefore, ackee, the avocado pear, cashew, peanuts, and coconut are cholesterol free … enjoy them!
Please note that the cholesterol content found in an ackee meal is due to the type of oil and meat-kind used in its preparation.