Ackee

Ackee is one of my favorite ingredients, however it is not something that I think most Trinidadians (or people worldwide) know or have tasted. In fact if it wasn’t for my Jamaican mother I probably would never have tasted it all!

I often see Western cookbooks comparing ackee to scrambled eggs, a comparison that I believe is more visual than taste-related. Ackee has a very creamy texture and is relatively mild in flavour. For this reason, like tofu, it does best when paired with assertive flavours and ingredients (such as the saltfish and peppers in Jamaica’s national dish ‘Ackee and Saltfish’). When it is paired with such flavours it absorbs them like a happy sponge and truly becomes something worth talking about!

Great care must be taken when harvesting ackee though as it can be quite toxic. In fact, I often tease my mother that it’s residual ackee toxins that make her and other Jamaicans so short-tempered! :lol:

From Wikipedia:
AckeeAlthough native to West Africa, consumption of ackee for food takes place mainly in Jamaican cuisine, where ackee and saltfish is the national dish. Salt cod is sauteed with ackee (boiled), onions, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and may be garnished with crisp bacon and fresh tomatoes.
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Ackee was first introduced to Jamaica and later to Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Barbados and others. It has been later introduced to Florida in the United States.
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The oil of the ackee arils contains many important nutrients, especially fatty acids. Linoleic, palmitic and stearic acids are the primary fatty acids found in the fruit. Ackee oil makes an important contribution to the diet of many Jamaicans.
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The dried seeds, fruit bark and leaves are used medicinally. The fruit is used to produce soap in some parts of Africa. It is also used as a fish poison.
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The fruit of the Ackee is not edible in entirety. It is only the fleshy arils around the seeds that are edible; the remainder of the fruit and seeds are poisonous. The fruit must only be picked after it has opened naturally, and it must be fresh and not overripe. Immature and overripe ackee fruit are also poisonous. The fruit, even when ripe, is a cause of Jamaican vomiting sickness, characterized by vomiting and hypoglycemia.

Because ackee does not naturally grow here and is not part of our national culinary lexicon, supermarkets rarely stock it and when they do the price is astronomical!

Ackee

Look at that! $61.99 TTD for a tin! For comparison the other tinned goods to the left and right of the ackee were all in the $7 – $10 range! That’s really depressing as it would take at least 2 of those tins to make 1 decent sized dish of ackee and saltfish.

The Jamaican High Commissioner’s residence has its own ackee trees, smart thinking on their part!

It really is a shame though that ackee is not more readily available (or used) here cos my only other chance to taste it comes when my mother returns from her trips home with it frozen in bulk and those only occur once every 5 years or so! But at least then its fresh ackee. I’ve never tasted the tinned, and from what my mother says tinned is a rather sorry substitute.

Below is a picture of the ackee and saltfish she made last October after returning from her most recent trip to her family. We served it with my Wholewheat bake and it was just wonderful :)

Ackee and Saltfish

She’s been reticent about having her recipe shared so here’s a YouTube video instead!

From Caribbean Beachcomber July/August 1969:

Ackee or achee is almost a national dish in Jamaica where it is very plentiful. It is the fruit of an evergreen tree which produces a scarlet hanging fruit. The fruit is triangular, splitting into three when ripe to show three black seeds covered by a creamy white edible flesh. The fruit is poisonous unless it ripens and opens on the tree. The pinkish tissue joining the white flesh is poisonous at any time and must be removed before cooking. Natives frequently prepare ackee boiled and mixed with saltfish. It can also be fried, broiled, curried or made into soup.

This post was originally published on May 13, 2007. It has been updated once since then.

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    I am Jamaican, born but not raised, and I must confess that I am not keen the Ackee. :-o I used to like it,until I had Ackee with everything. Now, my mother really, really enjoys Ackee. Even some of our American friends enjoy it as well. I do not get it, but I do enjoy saltfish and plantains. woohoo :lol:

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      oh dear! i can’t imagine getting fed up of ackee but I’m sure if i had it with everything I probably would :lol: How do you prepare your saltfish and plantains? I don’t think I’ve had that combo before ? :)

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      oh dear! i can’t imagine getting fed up of ackee but I’m sure if i had it with everything I probably would :lol: How do you prepare your saltfish and plantains? I don’t think I’ve had that combo before ? :)

  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    I am Jamaican, born but not raised, and I must confess that I am not keen the Ackee. :-o I used to like it,until I had Ackee with everything. Now, my mother really, really enjoys Ackee. Even some of our American friends enjoy it as well. I do not get it, but I do enjoy saltfish and plantains. woohoo :lol:

  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    I am Jamaican, born but not raised, and I must confess that I am not keen the Ackee. :-o I used to like it,until I had Ackee with everything. Now, my mother really, really enjoys Ackee. Even some of our American friends enjoy it as well. I do not get it, but I do enjoy saltfish and plantains. woohoo :lol:

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      oh dear! i can’t imagine getting fed up of ackee but I’m sure if i had it with everything I probably would :lol: How do you prepare your saltfish and plantains? I don’t think I’ve had that combo before ? :)

  • http://chennette.wordpress.com Chennette

    you mean is ackee that have allyuh so feisty? ;-) (should I have replaced “allyuh” with “uno” – you know I not Jamaican)

    I like ackee. I like ackee and saltfish. I like ackee patties (especially the ones at Devon House). But you’re right – I have only ever had it in Jamaica.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      OOO Devon House :) always up for a lime there :) But ackee patties? How’s that taste? Mom’s eyes are rolling in opposite directions at the idea :lol:

      • http://chennette.wordpress.com Chennette

        they were really good – the pastry was great and the filling – I guess the ackee took on the flavours of the seasonings. Ackee texture can be kinda meat like, maybe. But it’s not like I had a choice ;-) Devon House wasn’t offering halaal patties!

        • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

          hehe you are often vegetarian by circumstance like me :D

        • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

          hehe you are often vegetarian by circumstance like me :D

  • http://chennette.wordpress.com Chennette

    you mean is ackee that have allyuh so feisty? ;-) (should I have replaced “allyuh” with “uno” – you know I not Jamaican)

    I like ackee. I like ackee and saltfish. I like ackee patties (especially the ones at Devon House). But you’re right – I have only ever had it in Jamaica.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      OOO Devon House :) always up for a lime there :) But ackee patties? How’s that taste? Mom’s eyes are rolling in opposite directions at the idea :lol:

      • http://chennette.wordpress.com Chennette

        they were really good – the pastry was great and the filling – I guess the ackee took on the flavours of the seasonings. Ackee texture can be kinda meat like, maybe. But it’s not like I had a choice ;-) Devon House wasn’t offering halaal patties!

        • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

          hehe you are often vegetarian by circumstance like me :D

  • http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com Kalyn

    Most interesting. I’ve read about this type of fruit and always been curious about it. Of course I want to try it; I want to try all the unusual foods all over the world! Not much chance of finding it here I imagine, but I will keep looking for it when I’m traveling to other cities.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      oh kalyn, i really hope that you get a chance to taste ackee :)

  • http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com Kalyn

    Most interesting. I’ve read about this type of fruit and always been curious about it. Of course I want to try it; I want to try all the unusual foods all over the world! Not much chance of finding it here I imagine, but I will keep looking for it when I’m traveling to other cities.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      oh kalyn, i really hope that you get a chance to taste ackee :)

  • http://www.tastesofguyana.blogspot.com Cynthia

    I like ackee and saltfish too. There are quite a few ackee trees here in Barbados so I would get it fresh from some of my friends.

    Sarina it is really expensive though isn’t it? Over here that same can you have in the pic cost between BDS$25-27 per can so I don’t buy it. I wait until I can get some from one of my friends.

  • http://www.tastesofguyana.blogspot.com Cynthia

    I like ackee and saltfish too. There are quite a few ackee trees here in Barbados so I would get it fresh from some of my friends.

    Sarina it is really expensive though isn’t it? Over here that same can you have in the pic cost between BDS$25-27 per can so I don’t buy it. I wait until I can get some from one of my friends.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      hi cynthia, nice to see that the crazy price for Grace ackees isn’t just in Trinidad! I have no idea what tinned tastes like, but I’m sure it can’t beat fresh :D lucky you with your friends with trees :D

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      hi cynthia, nice to see that the crazy price for Grace ackees isn’t just in Trinidad! I have no idea what tinned tastes like, but I’m sure it can’t beat fresh :D lucky you with your friends with trees :D

  • http://www.tastesofguyana.blogspot.com Cynthia

    I like ackee and saltfish too. There are quite a few ackee trees here in Barbados so I would get it fresh from some of my friends.

    Sarina it is really expensive though isn’t it? Over here that same can you have in the pic cost between BDS$25-27 per can so I don’t buy it. I wait until I can get some from one of my friends.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      hi cynthia, nice to see that the crazy price for Grace ackees isn’t just in Trinidad! I have no idea what tinned tastes like, but I’m sure it can’t beat fresh :D lucky you with your friends with trees :D

  • http://thewellseasonedcook.blogspot.com Susan

    We have a tiny little Caribbean section in our supermarket, and they do stock ackees. I didn’t notice the price per can because I was busy scratching my head as to what was in the can. Now I know. And now I’m going back to check out the price. Thanks for a very informative and fun read.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      hi susan! thanks for passing by and commenting :) I’m glad that the mystery of the ackee has finally been solved :lol: I hope you’ll give it a try! :D

  • http://thewellseasonedcook.blogspot.com Susan

    We have a tiny little Caribbean section in our supermarket, and they do stock ackees. I didn’t notice the price per can because I was busy scratching my head as to what was in the can. Now I know. And now I’m going back to check out the price. Thanks for a very informative and fun read.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      hi susan! thanks for passing by and commenting :) I’m glad that the mystery of the ackee has finally been solved :lol: I hope you’ll give it a try! :D

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com Trig

    Ackee saltfish can be found in every Caribbean restaurant and caf?ɬ© in London and I first tried it when I was a young schoolboy. But I never cooked with ackee until recently, when I made ackee saltfish at home. For some strange reason, I never posted it on the blog – I must remedy that. Tinned ackee is not cheap, but you can get it in my corner shop and all the local supermarkets.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Ackee and saltfish is such comfort food for me, how did yours come out? :)

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com Trig

    Ackee saltfish can be found in every Caribbean restaurant and caf?ɬ in London and I first tried it when I was a young schoolboy. But I never cooked with ackee until recently, when I made ackee saltfish at home. For some strange reason, I never posted it on the blog – I must remedy that. Tinned ackee is not cheap, but you can get it in my corner shop and all the local supermarkets.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Ackee and saltfish is such comfort food for me, how did yours come out? :)

  • JuliMango

    Ackee doesn’t grow here!? Well it’s uncommon to be sure but there is a tree outside the Art Room of Valsayn Teacher’s college ….just in case you have a real bad craving:-)

  • JuliMango

    Ackee doesn’t grow here!? Well it’s uncommon to be sure but there is a tree outside the Art Room of Valsayn Teacher’s college ….just in case you have a real bad craving:-)

  • JuliMango

    Ackee doesn’t grow here!? Well it’s uncommon to be sure but there is a tree outside the Art Room of Valsayn Teacher’s college ….just in case you have a real bad craving:-)

  • JuliMango

    Ackee doesn’t grow here!? Well it’s uncommon to be sure but there is a tree outside the Art Room of Valsayn Teacher’s college ….just in case you have a real bad craving:-)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hey Juli thanks for the head up :) To the best of my knowledge the only trees here have been brought from overseas for personal reasons, it’s not indigenous. I’ll have to sneak into the teacher’s college to get a fix LOL :) ah too fraid of picking it myself tho, easy to get really sick :(

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hey Juli thanks for the head up :) To the best of my knowledge the only trees here have been brought from overseas for personal reasons, it’s not indigenous. I’ll have to sneak into the teacher’s college to get a fix LOL :) ah too fraid of picking it myself tho, easy to get really sick :(

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hey Juli thanks for the head up :) To the best of my knowledge the only trees here have been brought from overseas for personal reasons, it’s not indigenous. I’ll have to sneak into the teacher’s college to get a fix LOL :) ah too fraid of picking it myself tho, easy to get really sick :(

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hey Juli thanks for the head up :) To the best of my knowledge the only trees here have been brought from overseas for personal reasons, it’s not indigenous. I’ll have to sneak into the teacher’s college to get a fix LOL :) ah too fraid of picking it myself tho, easy to get really sick :(

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  • http://Ackee-Tree.com Orville

    For those of you that crave fresh ackee. I have several trees in my front yard. I also sell the trees over the internet. The taste of fresh ackee cannot be beat. I will never go back to the canned stuff. By the way trees are bearing now.

  • http://Ackee-Tree.com Orville

    For those of you that crave fresh ackee. I have several trees in my front yard. I also sell the trees over the internet. The taste of fresh ackee cannot be beat. I will never go back to the canned stuff. By the way trees are bearing now.

  • http://Ackee-Tree.com Orville

    Everything is dangerous if not used properly. Ackee Is no different. Like everything else we need to educate the public on the right way to use it.

  • http://Ackee-Tree.com Orville

    Everything is dangerous if not used properly. Ackee Is no different. Like everything else we need to educate the public on the right way to use it.

  • http://Ackee-Tree.com Orville

    Everything is dangerous if not used properly. Ackee Is no different. Like everything else we need to educate the public on the right way to use it.

  • dami

    My name is damian and i run a medium size ackee distribution company. if you guys are interested i can supply you with canned ackees at $190-220 per case.you can call me if you so desire at 1876-372-7454 anytime. i will ship them for you.
    ps. we only ship fda approved products.

  • dami

    My name is damian and i run a medium size ackee distribution company. if you guys are interested i can supply you with canned ackees at $190-220 per case.you can call me if you so desire at 1876-372-7454 anytime. i will ship them for you.
    ps. we only ship fda approved products.

  • Bigga

    Hey Sarina, out in Montreal, Canada that same can cost bout 6-9$. im trini born raised, i never saw a tree till i went to Saint Vincent on vacation. I was always curious bout it from history class esp the fact its semi poisonous if not picked ripe. Great article btw, im gonna have my friends on the look out for that tree at teach.college got a few old school mates there lol…

  • Bigga

    Hey Sarina, out in Montreal, Canada that same can cost bout 6-9$. im trini born raised, i never saw a tree till i went to Saint Vincent on vacation. I was always curious bout it from history class esp the fact its semi poisonous if not picked ripe. Great article btw, im gonna have my friends on the look out for that tree at teach.college got a few old school mates there lol…

  • Bigga

    Hey Sarina, out in Montreal, Canada that same can cost bout 6-9$. im trini born raised, i never saw a tree till i went to Saint Vincent on vacation. I was always curious bout it from history class esp the fact its semi poisonous if not picked ripe. Great article btw, im gonna have my friends on the look out for that tree at teach.college got a few old school mates there lol…

  • Pascale

    I Live In Jamaica And Im Not Really A Fan Of Ackee

  • Pascale

    I Live In Jamaica And Im Not Really A Fan Of Ackee

  • Nofake123

    I know this is kinda going off the subject (good article by the way) I was wondering if tinned ackee counted towards 1 of my 5 fruits or veg a day.

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

    I see no reason why not! :) Just be aware that tinned items often are quite high in sodium, so keep that in account :)

  • Honeymer

    It is funny you posted this today……i just bought three tine for 23 dollars. I buy it in Brooklyn every monday

  • http://www.abigailblake.com/sugarapple Abigail @ Sugar Apple

    I love ackee and saltfish but have never made my own. A friend (from Trinidad, not Jamaica funnily enough) had a tree full and I was looking forward to trying my hand at it. Unfortunately, Earl blew every single one away. Guess I'll have to stick to tins for now.

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