Caribbean Fruit & Vegetables
Caribbean Fruit & Vegetable Information Guide.
The Caribbean boasts a huge variety of delicious fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Take a look at some of the produce available in various Caribbean islands.
ACKEE – grows on trees and is found all over Jamaica. It’s very poisonous when unripe, when ripe, the fruit splits to show three large black seeds. Yellowish flesh, when cooked resembles scrambled eggs.
BREADFRUIT – a large rough skinned vegetable which grows on trees and can weigh up to 4 lb. It is one of the staple foods of the islands.
BLUGGOE – Part of the banana family. Similar to Plantain and must be cooked. Angular shaped outer skin.
CALLALOO – the leaves of the edoe, a green vegetable not unlike spinach.
CASSAVA – a thin root containing prussic acid which must be grated, boiled or roasted to extract the poison. It then becomes a flour when ground and makes cassava bread and other various dishes including farine.
CHOCHO/CHRISTOPHENE – sometimes spelt christophine, a pear-shaped member of the melon family with pale green skin and flesh which tastes something like marrow.
COCO/EDDOE – a hairy root about the size of a large potato and not unlike in taste.
OKRA/OCHRA – a spear shaped green pod filled with glutinous seeds. When large it is too fibrous to eat. The basis of gumbo dishes and eaten with rice by the islanders.
GREEN FIG – Apart of the banana family. Small in size and similar to plantain – must be cooked.
LAKATAN – A part of the banana family. This is a vegetable that must be cooked, similar to plantain. Can be red or purple skinned.
PEA – various types including: gungo, black-eye, chick peas. What is called ‘pea’ in Jamaica is a red or kidney bean.
PLANTAIN – like a large banana, but must be cooked.
PUMPKIN – often called by the American name, squash.
SORREL – the fruit sepals can be used to make a drinks. Sorrel is available in red and white sepals.
TANNIA – similar to eddoe.
YAM – a brown hairy root like a potato.
AVOCADO – green or purple skinned fruit.
BANANA – often called ‘fig’, especially the small variety. Fig bluggoes, rust skinned, are for cooking.
CASHEW NUT – kidney-shaped fruit, yellow or red when ripe. The juice is used for jelly or soft drinks and the kernel yields cashew nuts.
COCONUT – used unripe (green) and ripe (brown). The white meat of the ripe coconut is used grated, toasted or flaked and the milk made into cream. Green coconuts cintain jelly and water.
COCOA BEAN – Dried cocoa beans are fermented and dried to produce chocolate/
CUSTARD APPLE – a brown fruit with sweet moist pulp, cream coloured like custard.
GRAPEFUIT – the same as the European citrus.
GINEP/CHENNUB – small green fruit with apricot-coloured flesh and one large stone.
GUAVA – small yellow-skinned fruit with pink or yellow flesh and many seeds. It can be eaten raw, stewed or made into jelly or ‘cheese’, a paste, usually cut into squares.
LEMON – very similar to European citrus, but often rough skinned.
LIME – smooth-skinned citrus, smaller than a lemon.
MANGO – grows on large trees, a fruit with greenish-yellow skin, very sweet tasting apricot-coloured pulp and a large stone. Smaller types are stringy but larger varieties. Julies and Bombays are smooth and delicate. Unripe, they can be used for chutney.
MELON – both cantaloup and pink-fleshed water melon.
NONI – Sour tasting fruit. Can be made into drinks.
PAPAYA/PAWPAW – varies in size and flavour. Skin is greenish or yellow when very ripe, flesh apricot-coloured and delicate, centre filled with peppery black seeds. The pulp contains pepsin and the skin and seeds are useful as meat tenderisers. When unripe, it can be used as a vegetable.
PINEAPPLE – various sizes, plentiful on some islands.
POMERAC – Tastes similar to an apple. Turns a pink/red colour when ripe.
SAPODILLA/NASBERRY – fruit about the size of a large plum, brown skinned with sweet, yellowish flesh and several large flat black seeds.
SOURSOP – a large green skinned fruit covered in soft spines. The rather acid white flesh has many black shiny seeds in the centre. Sieved, it makes a creamy drink or ice cream.
STAR APPLE – a purple-skinned fruit which must be picked and rippened off the tree. The white flesh is rather tasteless and the pips are arranged in star formation.
SUGAR CANE – Juiced and make into sugar or squeezed to make a delicious drink.
SUGAR APPLE/SWEETSOP – has a skin covered with rubbery scales, often with a bloom on them. The flesh is creamy and sweet.
TAMARIND – Sweet and sour fruit. Great for sauces, seasonings and drinks.
TANGERINE – large and sweet on some islands.
UGLI FRUIT – a large citrus, uneven and thick skinned not unlike a grapefruit when peeled.
Herbs, Spices & Seasonings
ALLSPICE/PIMENTO – It’s called allspice because it smells slightly of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The berry, the size of a pea, is glossy black when ripe. It’s used in sweet chutneys, curries and marinades.
CHIVE – similar to spring onion, but with a more delicate flavour.
CINNAMON – a sweet spice made from ground tree bark. Used in cakes, cookies, sweets and much more.
CLOVE – used whole, but sparingly in pork, ham and fruit desserts.
GINGER – a bulb-like root with a pretty flower. Used in cakes, cookies, candies and chutney to name a few.
MACE – the lacy outer sheath of the nutmeg kernel with a stronger nutmeg flavour.
NUTMEG – the stone of the nutmeg fruit. Used in drinks, cakes, sweets and desserts.
PAPRIKA – made from dried sweet pepper and used in fish and meat dishes.
SAGE – plentiful on many islands and used with poultry, pork and fish.
THYME – usually sold in small bunches with chives and parsley and tied with a wisp of straw. These are always called ‘seasonings’.
TURMERIC – like saffron and used to colour and flavour rice and curries.
SCOTCH BONNET PEPPER – Commonly known in Grenada as “Seasoning Pepper.” Grown in many tropical countries. Smokey flavour which packs a punch.