Several types of Yams are grown in Jamaica. Most popular are: Renta, Negro, Sweet (all white), St. Vincent, a soft Yam (which can be white or purple) and the ever popular yellow Yam to name a few.
Yams are cultivated in Jamaica from sea level to about 4000 ft. and are called tubers; they are a vitally important part of the West Indian diet. They can be boiled, roasted, baked, fried and are eaten sliced cubed, pounded or mashed. There is a marked difference in quality of taste between Jamaican grown Yams and Yams grown in other parts of the world. The taste and texture of the Jamaican grown Yam is far superior to Yams grown elsewhere.
Yams are high in Vitamin C, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese, while being low in saturated fat and sodium.
Vitamin C, dietary fiber and Vitamin B6 all promote good health. Furthermore, a product that is high in potassium and low in sodium is likely to produce a good sodium-potassium balance in the body and protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. Having a low level of saturated fat is also helpful for protection against heart disease.
Yam products generally have a lower glycemic index than potato products, which means that they will provide a more sustained form of energy and give better protection against obesity and diabetes.
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Pimento information Jamaican pepper Allspice
Pimento is one of the most important ingredients in Jamaican cuisine. It is also used in Jamaican Jerk seasoning. Pimento is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Palestinian cuisine for example, many main dishes call for Pimento as the sole spice added for flavoring.
The leaves of the Pimento plant are also used in cooking. Fresh leaves are used when available: they are similar in texture to bay leaves and are infused during cooking and removed before serving. They loose much of their flavor when dried and stored.
Ground Pimento (allspice) is not a mixture of spices. It is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The fruit is picked when it is green and unripe and traditionally dried in the sun. When dry the fruits are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns. The whole fruit has a longer shelf life than the powdered product. The fruit is a more aromatic product when freshly ground before used.
To protect the Pimento trade, the plant was guarded against export from Jamaica. It is reported that many attempts were made at growing the Pimento seeds, all of which failed. At one time, it was thought that the plant would grow nowhere else but Jamaica.
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Breadfruit is a staple food in many tropical regions. The Breadfruit is very rich in starch and before being eaten it is either, roasted, baked, fried or boiled. When cooked the taste is similar to fresh baked bread (hence the name).
Breadfruit is one of the highest yielding food plants, with a single tree producing up to 200 or more fruits per season.
The Breadfruit was brought to Jamaica, in the 18th century by Lieutenant William Bligh. The British authorities of the day needed a cheap high-energy food to feed slaves in Jamaica. Lieutenant Bligh was sent to Tahiti in 1787 to source and bring back the Breadfruit plant.
On his first journey (sailing the HMS Bounty) Bligh hit trouble, with the hold full of Breadfruit plants that required copious amounts of fresh water to survive the journey and the ship?s crew, who also needed fresh water for their own survival; Bligh decided that the Breadfruit plants were more important - hence one of the reasons for the mutiny by the crew - (later known as The Mutiny on the Bounty).
The second journey in 1791 was successful and the Breadfruit plants reached Jamaica; but low-and-behold the slaves for whom the Breadfruit was meant to feed, hated it and so it was fed to pigs for the next 100 years.
Now the Breadfruit is an important part of the Jamaican diet. It is often roasted (very popular) before eating.
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Breadfruit is a high-energy food and has varying amounts of the following Minerals and Vitamins: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Beta-Carotene, Lycopene, Lutein, VitaminC, B1, B2, B3, Folic acid.
Although native to West Africa, consumption of the Ackee fruit for food takes place mainly in Jamaica and world cities where Jamaicans reside and where Ackee & Salt fish (salted cod) is the national dish.
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.
The fruit is used to produce soap in some parts of Africa.
The fruit of the Ackee is not edible in its entirety. Only the inner fleshy yellow arils are consumed. The shiny black seeds at the tips of the arils and the bright red pod enclosing 2 or 3 arils are discarded.
Ackees must be harvested, prepared and cooked properly. Ackee pods should be allowed to ripen and open naturally on the tree before picking. Prior to cooking the Ackee arils must be cleaned, washed, boiled and the water discarded. Unripe Ackees and the inner red tissue must not be eaten.
Ackee has high nutritional value and is rich in essential fatty acids, Vitamin A, zinc and protein.
The Ackee fruit is a major export product in Jamaica and is worth approximately $400 million to the Island.
Ipswich Estate Growers exports Ackees to the USA, Great Britain and Canada for the catering industry only, under the St. Bess label.
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Okra (Lady!s finger, Bindi) a native of West Africa is cultivated through the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world. The fruits are harvested when immature, cooked and eaten as a vegetable. The leaves may be cooked and eaten. They can also be eaten raw in salads.
Okra is eaten in many parts of the world, i.e. Jamaica, Egypt, Greece, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Yemen to name a few.
A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land-care.
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Okra is rich in Folic acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Magnesium.
Okra seeds produce a greenish yellow edible oil when pressed, it has a pleasant taste and odor and is high in unsaturated fats such as Oleic acid, and Linoleic acid. Oil content of the seed is high, at about 40%.
Chayote (Christophene) is an edible plant belonging to the gourd family. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground or more commonly on trellises.
The fruit is roughly pear-shaped with coarse wrinkles. It has a thin green skin, pale green or white flesh and a single large flattened seed. The flesh has a fairly bland taste. Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavor and may be eaten as part of the fruit. The fruit can be eaten raw in salads. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried and pickled.
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The fruit is rich in amino acids and Vitamin C. The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties.Tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension and to dissolve kidney stones.