Jamaica is home to some amazing food, and also some pretty cool vegetables. There are a number of food ingredients that are technically fruit, but are used like you would expect vegetables to be.
The unique flavors of the county’s cuisine make it hard to pinpoint which foods are considered fruits or vegetables when it comes to eating in Jamaica.
For example, ackee (pronounced ah-keh) can be described as both a vegetable and a fruit.
It is usually eaten raw and served with salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, and sometimes garlic, onion, ginger, and hot peppers.
For the purposes of this list, there will be some items that are considered to be fruits. These fruits are used in a manner that is more similar to vegetables, so it only makes sense!
Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy your journey into one of the most interesting cuisines on the planet! If you find yourself wondering about what else is grown in the countries around the world, there are plenty more to look into!
The cho cho is a vegetable native to Jamaica. It has thick white skin and green flesh. This vegetable tastes slightly sweet and is often added to soups. It is a popular ingredient in jerk chicken dishes.
Known as “garden peas”, dasheen is a legume that resembles soybeans in size and shape. In fact, they are related to the pea plant.
Dasheen is cultivated in many Caribbean islands. Jamaicans use them in stews, casseroles, curries, breads, salads, and desserts.
In Jamaica, the pumpkin is used in many dishes, such as goat curry or stew peas. Pumpkin is also made into beverages, such as ice cream floats, smoothies, grog, and juice blends.
While technically a fruit, pumpkins are frequently roasted and used in a number of savory dishes. Pumpkins can vary in size, are orange, and taste of buttery sweetness.
Squash is another common Jamaican vegetable. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin A, squash is commonly used in Jamaican recipes.
Squash is easy to grow and is available year round. It is also high in fiber, potassium, iron, protein, and magnesium.
The squash can be cooked in a variety of ways, including baking, boiling, frying, roasting, steaming, grilling, microwaving, and stir-frying.
Also known as “boiled greens”, Callaloo is a traditional Jamaican dish. It consists of tender leaves of spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, or any other hearty leafy green.
The leaves are boiled until soft and then seasoned with onions, scallions, and spices.
Scotch Bonnet Peppers
These peppers have been part of Jamaican culture since the early days of colonization.
They were originally brought over by British colonists during the 17th century. Their name refers to their small size and shape. Scotch bonnets are mild and full of flavor.
You can eat these peppers raw, pickled, fried, braised, or grilled.
This delicious vegetable hails from West Africa and the Caribbean. Okra is a staple in Jamaican cuisine. It is used for soup, salad, and even dessert.
When cooked, okra becomes soft, sweet, and creamy. Okra pairs well with tomatoes, cheese, coconut milk, fish, meat, rice, and lentils.
Another African import, cassava is a root vegetable that is used throughout the Caribbean.
Cassava is very versatile; it can be prepared in a wide range of ways, including baked, boiled, fried, ground, mashed, mixed with eggs, and used as a substitute for potatoes.
Cassava is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Breadfruit tastes a lot like raw, doughy bread. It was brought to Jamaica by British colonizers and is now widely consumed. It is used in many dishes such as soups and pies.
Breadfruit is high in protein, carbohydrates, iron, calcium, and zinc. Chips can be made from this plant, and the seeds are great snacks when they are roasted.
Breadfruit is the perfect ingredient for any meal time, including breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Chayotes resemble zucchini, but they have a softer texture and more delicate flavor. Chayotes are popular in Puerto Rican and Cuban cuisines.
They are often eaten in salads, soups, and stews. In Jamaica, chayotes are usually served at breakfast time.
They are also made into chips and are frequently used in place of white potato.
Boniato, or sweet potato, is a popular Jamaican ingredient in cooking. It has a unique sweetness and nutty taste. Boniato is low in fat and high in vitamins, especially vitamin C.
It’s best to cook boniato before eating because its starchiness may make your teeth hurt. Boniato is traditionally eaten with saltfish (a type of cured cod) and peas.
Jicama is similar to water chestnuts in appearance, although jícama is much smaller. The jícama is native to Mexico and the Caribbean.
It is commonly found in Mexican markets. This crisp tuberous root is high in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, folate, and beta-carotene.
It is not easily digested, so serves as excellent prebiotic food. They taste like a cross between a turnip and an apple.
Jícamas are most often peeled and grated onto salads, tacos, sandwiches, and desserts. They are sometimes used in Jamaica in place of regular potatoes.
The tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family and grows on tropical plants. Tomatillos are green, oval shaped fruits that grow underground.
They are typically harvested before they ripen. Fresh tomatillos are sour, while canned ones are less acidic. Tomatillos have a tangy and slightly fruity flavor, which makes them ideal for salsa.
Tomatillos can also be dried and powdered for use in sauces and other recipes.
This root vegetable originates from South America. Yuca root is primarily used in Latin American countries, particularly Cuba and Venezuela, but is also found throughout the Caribbean.
It is a long, tubular root that looks somewhat like a large carrot. It has a milder flavor than potato and a crunchier texture than yam.
Yuca root provides good amounts of manganese and copper, which helps boost energy levels and supports healthy skin, bones, blood vessels, and muscles.
Plantains resemble bananas, but are longer, thinner, and darker. Plantains are mainly grown in Africa and Central and South America.
They are very nutritious, containing lots of fiber and iron. They are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and polyphenols, and contain higher quantities of potassium, magnesium, and essential fatty acids than bananas.
Plantains are extremely versatile; they can be fried, boiled, mashed, baked, grilled, or added to soups or stews. They are often used in Jamaican cuisine and sold fresh in local markets.
Dried beans are one of the staple foods in Jamaica. Beans were first introduced to Jamaica by the Spanish during colonial times.
Dried black beans are usually served in soup form, but they can also be eaten straight out of the can. These legumes are packed with protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Black beans are especially rich in iron, zinc, vitamin B6, potassium, and dietary fiber. Green beans are also commonly consumed in Jamaica.
Yams are tubers that belong to the same family as potatoes, but are native to Africa and Asia. Yam is a staple food in Jamaica.
It has a creamy consistency and a sweet flavor. It is rich in carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, and vitamins A, B2, B3, C, and E.
It contains more calories per gram than any other starch source. It is used in soups and stews and can be cooked in various ways.
In Jamaica, it is traditionally roasted and ground into flour to make bread.
Gungo peas are common in the Jamaican diet. They are grown in Jamaica and the rest of the world. Gungo peas are small round pods that look like lima beans when raw.
When cooked, gungo peas become tender and cream-colored.
They are low in fat but high in fiber. They provide good sources of iron, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, phosphorus, calcium, folate, and zinc. Gungo peas taste similar to fava beans.
The French peanut is a common ingredient in Jamaica. It is used in many dishes including salads, desserts, and main courses.
French peanuts are smooth and round, rather than wrinkled like regular peanuts. They are considered a delicacy because of their unique flavor.
They taste slightly nutty and have a slight sweetness. The nuts are harvested after several years of growth and can take up to 20 months to mature.
They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and selenium.
Although a lot of the vegetables on this list can be found in your grocery store, there are a few that are unique to Jamaica.
Every country has a unique cuisine, and the ingredients used to create the spectacular dishes are unique themselves.
If you ever find yourself in Jamaica, make sure that you try out at least a couple of the ingredients on this list!