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Ackee - What Is And Is It Dangerous

Ackee is a fruit which can be grown in Florida and Hawaii as well as other tropical areas of the Caribbean and Africa. People do eat their own grown ackee, but there is a risk to it.

For many years, the US banned all sales of ackee because if the fruit is not picked at the right time or improperly canned it is very poisonous. This fruit from the stiff branched tree that originated from West Africa grows a set of reddish, orange pods that contain a delicious yellow fruit. It was transplanted from Africa for the benefit of the slaves who were imported to the New World. It can only grow in a warm, moist, tropical area in sandy soil.

The only edible part of this plant is the ripe, yellow fruit. It is ripe when the pod opens showing its distinctly yellow delicacy. If the inside is not ripe or overly ripe, it is poisonous. The pod is also poisonous as well as the rest of the plant and seed. The water in which the fruit is cooked is also poisonous. By boiling the fruit it dissolves the poison out of it so it is safe to eat. Many people die from eating it in the wrong way (The Jamaica Observer, 2011).

That is why it was banned in the United States, there is too great a risk of death from people who do not know how to prepare it. Until recently, you could not buy ackee in the United States, but now you can find it in some ethnic markets or green grocers. Be sure to get some salted cod and green bananas along with fried dumplings to make a delicious breakfast!

With fruit from the tree, make sure you pick it as it is ripened and cook it the same day. Pick the fruit with rubber gloves. Do not force pods open. Let the pods open on its own. If you let the pods ripen too long, discard them in a safe place since they are poisonous. If unripe pods fall to the ground, discard them in a safe place. You do not want small children or pets to have access to them.

As soon as you pick the fresh, ripe fruit, gently remove the fruit from the pod and place the fruit in water. Discard the pods in a safe place. Parboil the fruit in the water until slightly tender. Drain the fruit from the water and rinse it completely. Boil again in fresh, slightly salted water until tender. Then it is ready to eat or use in your recipe.

If you get the ackee from a can, make sure you get it from a reliable source. Drain the ackee from the can water and rinse. Boil in fresh water and rinse again. Then you can use it in your recipe or eat.

This fruit is usually served fried after boiling. As a popular Jamaican dish, you can prepare it with salt fish (salted cod), fried dumpling and plantain. This is a Jamaican Sunday breakfast.

If you are eating ackee, beware of the warning signs of poisoning. It will cause dangerous hypoglycemia. Watch for nausea and vomiting two hours after eating. The victim may appear to have no symptoms for several hours and suddenly go into convulsions, get low blood sugar, low blood pressure, fall into a coma and may die. Death will occur within 24 hours of eating the poison. If treated within the first few hours when nausea and vomiting occur, chances are excellent for complete recovery. Go to the emergency room and explain what happened. You will be treated for symptoms of hypoglycemia and have your stomach pumped. Left untreated, the high concentration of poison will kill you.

As long as you take proper precautions, there is nothing to worry about. It is a very delicious fruit that is slightly sweet and nutty. It has a taste of its own that is hard to describe, but once you taste it you will be willing to take the risk again.

Try This Recipe For Saltfish and Ackee