Did you know that the shell from the ackee fruit has been used as soap?
There are so many hidden gems to this often under looked fruit!. But I get it!, it only happens to be poisonous for most of its life cycle and it is only edible when it naturally ripens and opens its exuberant shell to unveil these 3 mysterious shinning black seeds. Timing is crucial when it comes to ackee, what for an exotic mystery it is!. The yellow edible fruit is known as the aril. The shell of the fruit is not edible. It is only the yellowish fleshy arils around the seeds that are edible. The remainder of the fruit, including the seeds are poisonous. Immature and overripe ackee is also poisonous!. When in doubt, ask any locals!.
Its originates in Tropical West Africa, where locals have used the entire tree to treat and medicate all sort of illnesses. But the most fascinating aspect I found was how people used this plant and its fruit in their daily life. Women would use the unripe shells in their laundry water to produce a natural occurring soap. The men would grain the seeds into a pulp and throw it in fresh water to catch fish. The toxic in the seeds would be absorbed through the gills and affect their respiratory system and would make the fish float!. The toxic wouldn't go into the fish meat making it safe to eat. If a fish was not caught, it could still be revived as it washed away into non toxic water.
But, why taking the risk to eat such a fruit?
The broader the variety of possibilities we offer our bodies, the greater the benefit to ourselves. I can guarantee that you won't find a genetically modified Ackee tree, at least not yet!. When we consume a wild nutritious food, we are only helping to strengthen our immune system for one thing!. Ackee is high in potassium which works as a vasodilator preventing the damage to the arteries and blood vessels. Potassium is necessary for the well functioning process of our cardiovascular system by keeping the blood pressure stable. Ackee also has a very high protein content considering the fact that it is just a fruit!. It also has a high number of essential minerals like calcium, zinc, phosphorous and iron which helps us to have good and healthy bones. Iron is also a key component of hemoglobin, and by adding a diverse intake in our diet, it helps preventing anemia. It also has a good amount of vitamin C which helps to prevent colds and flus by encouraging the development of white blood cells and is also necessary for the absorption of collagen. Ackee also boasts a remarkable range of beneficial fatty acids, like stearic, linoleic and palmitic acids. Last but not least, the higher content of fibre in ackee helps regulate the sugar levels in the blood.
But who has actually ever eaten ackee because of its wonderful nutrients?, surely not me!. I just love it stirred fried in coconut oil and drizzled with some fresh herbs. It looks like scrambled eggs with a touch of nuts. Have you tried it raw?, I was honestly doubtful to do it, but the flavor was such an experience!. What is your favorite way to eat ackee? Picture of my bowl of ackee drizzled with olive oil and fresh cilantro.
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