If you love vegetables, Jamaican offers a wide variety of fruits and Jamaican vegetables, some being part of recipe of your favorite Jamaican dishes.
Cho cho (Christophine)
The Jamaican Cho cho or chayote is an odd members of the family of melon, gourds, squashes and pumpkins. This Jamaican Cho cho is actually a fruit. It is about the size of a small pear, is boiled or sauted and served as a “vegetable”. Jamaican Cho cho is thought native to Southern Mexico and Jamaica. Unlike its many seeded cousins, the Jamaican Cho cho contains a single seed. The fruit is usually planted whole lying on its side. The Jamaican Cho cho seed sends out its root and stem from the bottom of the fruit. The vines are trained to an overhead support so the fruit hangs and can be readily picked from below. It is enjoyed in soups, stews or steamed vegetable dishes.
Callaloo is a Jamaican variety of spinach, a leafy vegetable and it plays an important role in the Jamaican diet. Steamed Callaloo is often served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is cooked with codfish and used in soups most popular of those is the Pepperpot soup, in which Callaloo is the main ingredient and typically steamed or sauted with onions, garlic, tomato, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper. Many Jamaicans have popularized it by substituting it for its North American counterpart in non-traditional Jamaican dishes such as quiche and omelettes etc. Callaloo is rich in nutrients including: iron and other minerals, Vitamin C, flavonoids, calcium, and Vitamin A. Callaloo has over four times the calcium, over two times the iron, and over two times the vitamin A compared to broccoli and other vegetables. Jamaicans use callaloo to plethora of dishes and its juice for nutritional benefits. Callaloo has become so popular that it is now sold in all the larger supermarkets across the island.
A great Jamaican vegetable, the okra was said to be have been brought to Jamaica by the salves of West Africa. This green finger looking vegetable is of the pepper family, longer than the jalapeno pepper, without the heat and spice of a typical pepper. It also has quite an interesting slimy interior which is cooked for short periods lessens the slime factor. If cooked for a long period such as in soups or stews it cooks down quite a bit. Okra is widely eaten in soups, and often with fish. Okra is seen quite regularly in Jamaicans Ital cuisine that is enjoyed by the Rastafarian followers who subscribe to a strict vegetarian diet.
Cassava, originally grown by the indigenous tribe of Jamaica, the Trainos, is a starchy, tuber-like ground provision. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop and is a staple of the average Jamaican’s diet. Many enjoy it with all meals and substitute it for rice, pasta or potato. Because of its starchy and mild flavour many use it for both savoury and sweet dishes. It is also the main ingredient in a national favourite that cannot be missed on any trip to the island, is made from grated cassava, Bammy. Bammy is most commonly served with fried or steamed fish and festival at the majority of Jamaica’s beach food stalls. Today it is produced in many rural communities and sold in stores and by street vendors in Jamaica and abroad. When ready to eat, the wedges are soaked in coconut milk for a few minutes and then fried to a golden brown.
Legend has it that the breadfruit was brought to Jamaica from Tahiti by Captain William Bligh on his second voyage to the South Pacific in 1793. His main reason for introducing Breadfruit in Jamaica was to feed the slaves. Unfortunately the slaves did not take to the taste, so the fruit vegetable sat around and grew wild for some time. It was even fed to the hogs. Like its name, it tastes like doughy bread. Dark green Breadfruits are ideal for roasting. If the Breadfruits has brown spots it is becoming ripe you can also roast but it will be a little sweet and soft when it is finished. People in Jamaica typically roast Breadfruit in order to cook it and it is normally enjoyed right off the fire. Alternatively many Jamaicans enjoy it fried in slices and seasoned with sea salt to taste. There are two types of Jamaican Breadfruit yellow hearted and white hearted. The yellow heart variety is much sweeter than its white hearted counterpart which tends to be much blander in taste. Breadfruit has grown on the Jamaican people has since become a staple within traditional Jamaican cuisine.
Check out our “Jamaica Tasting” tour and experience some of the authentic Jamaican cuisines: https://yourjamaicanto.com/tour/jamaica-tasting-tour/