Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is one of the main ingredients in the popular breakfast dish "Ackee and Saltfish." Ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica but was imported from West Africa during the 18th century, the name is derived from the West African name "Akye Fufo". Whilst the tree is grown in many countries, it is only known to be cultivated for food in Jamaica
Each fruit consists of three black seeds surrounded by yellow flesh and a skin which turns red on maturity of the fruit. Upon ripening, the red skin opens up revealing the flesh and seeds.
It is important that ackees are not picked until the skin has opened up as the flesh contains toxins up until this point. Knowledge of proper harvesting techniques is widespread in Jamaica so cases of poisoning are rare. In any case, serious illness due to eating unripe ackees has only been recorded in those who are already ill or frail. However, if you experience nausea and vomiting around two hours after eating ackee then seek medical treatment!
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