Home African Caribbean Jamaican Fruits That I Love!

Jamaican Fruits That I Love!

by Tony Kelly

Having been brought up in Jamaica on a farm in White Hall, St. Thomas and also spending holidays in the parish of St. Elizabeth both properties had an abundance of fruit trees.  I have decided to devote this entire article to my love of fruits which is still the case.

Below I will list some if not all the fruits  which formed part of my early upbringing and which I truly love to this day. Of course,  my number 1 all-time favourite fruit is mango but they have to be from the island of Jamaica  as other varieties just don’t taste as good and that remains my opinion. I can’t wait for the mango season to start  in April with late May to early June  being when the supplies to England start arriving. I look forward to getting them air freighted live and direct from Jamaica to Birmingham Wholesale market especially Julie mangoes which I love the best.

Listed here are some of the fruits  that I used to eat  in abundance whilst growing up there. They are  grapefruit,  custard apple, barge,  orange, jimbeline, hog plum, June plum, ugly fruit (cross between an orange and a grapefruit),  ortanique (cross between a mandarin and a sweet orange)  locust, naseberry, soursop, sweetsop, sugar cane,  guinep,  jackfruit, star apple,  papaya, tamarind,  ripe banana, pear (sweet) not to be confused with avocado, pineapple, stinking toe and Otaheite apple.  Oh, how I would be so happy if Jamaican farmers exported custard apples  to England as I have not had any in years even on visits to the island and I absolutely  love them.

At the moment  I am able to purchase  Jamaican sweetsops in Birmingham for the family which  are  expensive  but I  really love them as they are truly scrumptious.  Guavas  are also in season  and readily available and I can’t wait to start getting a fair share of water melons which means proper ones and not varieties  which  lack that luscious taste. I don’t think the water melons  come from  sunny Jamaica  but ‘lawks dem nice’ and are available from about May until August.

Biologically the following are all fruits too, ackee, avocado, breadfruit,  coconut,  cucumber and tomatoes  even though it is only in recent times that I have acquired the taste for avocado as never  used to like it.  The  glorious sunshine, rain  and fertile soil give the fruits from Jamaica the edge in my opinion as I have been to several of the other Caribbean islands and personally speaking there is no comparison.  I am certain to have missed out some of these lovely tasting fruits  but readers can if they so wish add them in comments  on the website or beg to differ with my bold statement.

In England  one gets apricots, peaches, nectarines, dates, figs, pomegranates, kiwi fruits, varieties of apples, black, red and green grapes, plums, cranberries, cherries, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries some of which are imported. I would highly recommend blueberries which are available in supermarkets all-year round as it a super fruit eaten on its own,  in cereal or with plain low-fat yoghurt.

Some might wonder with my type 2 diabetes controlled by diet and physical activity for the past nineteen years , why do I love and eat so much fruits as most contain  fructose (natural sugar) which can still lead to weight gain and increase one’s blood sugar/glucose levels. The simple answer to that is in order to avoid piling on the pounds one must keep burning up the calories by doing physical activity and more movement instead of leading a couch potato/sedentary lifestyle. That is exactly what I do and my GP has given me permission to eat as many as six mangoes at a time!!!

Evidence shows there are significant health benefits to getting at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables, every day. Some experts are now saying seven is the magic number when it comes to health and life expectancy with the saying ‘Forget 5 and make it 7 a day’.  It sounds a tall order but if we include at least one and preferably two servings of fruit or veg at every meal or snack one will get there. That’s seven  portions of fruit and veg in total, not five portions of each.  They are a good source of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin C and potassium. They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems.   A diet high in fibre can also reduce ones risk of bowel cancer, heart disease, strokes and other types of cancer.

One must also remember that most fruits contain water which contribute to the two litres that it is recommended we drink each day and therefore aids hydration.

So, my message to all the  CaribDirect.com readers is to eat more fruits but make sure to keep active as well.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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Jacqueline Robinson February 16, 2024 - 1:41 am

An excellent read, took me down memory lane. When I returned to England as an adult, it took me a while to get accustom to the variety of fruits here. Mango one of my favourite didn’t taste quite the same as the Jamaican mangoes ( I am very much with you on that one Tony).
However, I now have acquired the taste for most and like trying new ones.
Thanks Tony for educating us on the health benefits of fruits.

Jenny February 13, 2024 - 10:25 pm

Mi mouth a wata! 🙂

Carol Thomas February 13, 2024 - 12:51 pm

I share your passion for the love of Jamaican fruits
I miss soursop and custard apple.
I also grew up on a farm where most of those fruit trees were available.
Last summer I was fortunate to see custard apples in Costco one Saturday but when I returned they were finished, and I never saw them again.
It was imported from South Africa.
I had not eaten it for over 30 years. I will go on a hunt for it this summer.
Your article has brought back precious memories growing up on my grandparents farm.
I would always look forward to summer to pick the various mangoes and other fruits that were in abundance on the farm. In those days we never had all the commercial snacks. We had fruits for breakfast, lunch and dinner.Not to mention the sugarcane!
After the summer holidays it was the practice by our parents and grand parents to give us a “washout” ie a laxative before we returned to school.
Oh such precious childhood memories growing up on a farm with my grandparents.

Jannette Barrett February 12, 2024 - 4:05 pm

Oh my my. I found Tony Kelly’s knowledge on fruit and his ‘Whys’ most interesting. I haven’t heard of some of those fruits for donkeys .


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