Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wow - Food of The Gods

ice cream bean
"A delectable snack that comes in its own natural wrapper"
much loved by children.

ice cream bean

ice cream bean

This is my absolute most favorite food! I've never seen it here in the US, but when I was growing up - it was - well - Nirvana whenever we got it. We called it Guaba and sometimes Guayavana - neither of which is actually correct. A more popular name for it is the Ice Cream Bean. And it really does taste like vanilla ice cream! I remember when we moved into the house in Chupientza, there was a large tree growing right there in the compound. I was so excited. Imagine my disapointment when I discovered that it didn't produce fruit continuously all year round.

ice cream bean

ice cream bean

ice cream beanThese pictures are making my mouth water! What I would give to have one right now... hmmm... my first born child?

Here's the scoop on it:

ice cream beanIce-cream Bean (Inga edulis)

Although numerous species are called the ice cream bean, this is the most common species attributed the name. The fruit is a long bean pod, sometimes a few feet in length, which contain sweet, juicy, white pulp that has a soft cotton wool texture and tastes of vanilla ice-cream. The pulp surrounds a large smooth black seed. This large nitrogen fixing tree is native to Central and Southern America.

  • Description: Medium to large sized tree up to 60+ feet tall.
  • Hardiness: Will stand temperatures to the 30's when mature.
  • Growing Environment: Grow in full sun. Naturally occurs near river banks, so it enjoys year-round irrigation.
  • Soil Characteristics: Well drained, but tolerant of a wide range.
  • Climate Requirements: Warm humid areas - can grow in most parts of the tropics and subtropics.Not tolerant of frost or drought.
  • Propagation: By seeds.
  • Culture: Trees grow easily from seed, often becoming a weed below the adult tree. Limbs are very weak and easily broken by wind.
  • Harvesting: Pods are harvested when fully rounded usually over summer.
  • Length of time until first crop: Three years
  • Marketing Notes: Very attractive to children. Short life of only a few days off the tree.
  • Uses: Almost always eaten fresh. Trees are sometimes planted to provide shade to coffee and cacao plantations.
  • Native Range: Native to riverbanks, swamps and lakes of the Amazon Rainforest.

Here are some pictures of what it looks like growing and blooming:

ice cream bean
ice cream bean
ice cream bean
ice cream bean
ice cream bean

Gosh I wish I had the time and the location to plant a few of those seeds and grow a couple of trees!!

ice cream bean

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