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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
Jamaica has a variety of fruits but a few have become quite “associated” with the island.
We all know that ackee and saltfish is the island’s national dish, but did you know that ackee is actually a fruit, not a vegetable? As a matter of fact, it doubles as Jamaica’s national fruit. However, while it is a significant part of our culture, the ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica.
According to legend, in 1778, Commander Bligh, the captain of a slave ship, transported the Ackee from West Africa to Jamaica. But in 1793, Captain William Bligh, a well-known English seaman, brought the fruit from Jamaica to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, where it was first made known to scientists.
The fruit was given the scientific name Blighia sapida in recognition of the Captain's "discovery" Ackee and saltfish were frequently served with breadfruit, which was introduced to Jamaica by the same Captain Bligh.
The term "Ankye," which comes from the Twi language of Ghana, is whence the word "Ackee" originated. Ackee is known by the scientific name Blighia sapida. Ackee can be poisonous if forced opened or not cleaned and boiled properly before consumption.
But when it is, it is a delicious addition to any menu. Here are some of our favourite ways to have ackee:
This fruit has a strong head start in the running of the most popular and loved fruit in Jamaica. Some would argue that it should be considered the national fruit. In general, the mango season in Jamaica begins in April or May and lasts until July or August.
Although the mango is thought to have originated in India, it is a very popular fruit in this country. Mango is still used today to make a variety of dishes, including desserts, cocktails, ice cream, juices, and chutneys.
Mango season is an exciting time for Jamaicans, and for most, 1 or 2 is never enough to be had in 1 sitting, but maybe 6 will do. Some of the most popular mangos are east Indian, stringy, number, greengage, rusty, Julie and Bombay. It’s tradition to have green mangoes with salt and a healthy dash of pepper.
The Jamaican Otaheite apple, is arguably the second most popular fruit in Jamaica. Syzygium Malaccense, the scientific name for this apple, is a kind of flowering tree that is thought to have originated in Malaysia (hence the name Malay rose apple), but it is also connected to Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, New Guinea, and Indonesia.
Although it may be found on other Caribbean Islands, it was first brought to Jamaica in 1793, where it has since thrived and integrated itself into our culture to the point that it is one of the fruits that are used to "define" us.
The Otaheite apple may vary in texture, some may be soft and juicy while others may be on the crunchier side. While it is most commonly eaten as is, it also makes quite a delicious drink.
A traditional tropical fruit with luscious, sweet yellow flesh covered by a thick orange peel and a crown of lush green spikes. One of the island's most adaptable fruits, the pineapple is used in our holiday ham recipes and juices, jams, and jellies.
The pineapple is believed to have been brought to Jamaica by the Tainos from south America. Its name is often shortened and simply referred to as “pine”.
Bananas are probably the most abundant fruit in Jamaica. It’s that one fruit that you can get all year round. They are boiled when green and had as a side dish to many of your favourite Jamaican dishes such as brown stew, curry, ackee and saltfish, and many others. Ripe bananas are eaten as is or used to make pastries, fritters or smoothies.
Their some fruits that are not native to Jamaica but are native to the west indies.
Cassava, cashew, cocoa, guava, and cassia are indigenous to the West Indies. Cassava, also known as yucca, or "staff of life," was a staple food among Tainos and is an Arawak word.
The cashew tree grows best in regions with little rainfall, and in the past, cashew nuts in their shells were utilized in several kid-friendly activities in Jamaica.
The discovery of cocoa in Jamaica long before Columbus' arrival led to a rise in its value in 1847 when chocolate production got underway.
The fruit Guinep, is popular throughout the Caribbean as well, but you may see it being reffered to by different names, including Spanish lime, mamoncillo, honeyberry, chennette, quenette. Not to be confused with Jamaican Ackee mentioned above, Barbadians call this fruit ackee.
Out favourite way to utilise these fruits especially during seasons of abundance, is to make many refreshing drinks. You can try some of our recipes too.
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What Fruit Is Jamaica Known For? | Written: November 23, 2022