What looks like a fava bean and tastes like ice cream… ?
The answer (believe it or not) is ice-cream beans! The fluffy pulp inside this pod is sweet and even a bit gooey.
Mexico is the northern boundary of this tropical fruit's native habitat, but Pedro’s Organic Farm is growing them in Southern California! You get Ice Cream Beans at their stand at any of our five Farmer Mark markets.
Botanically speaking, the ice cream bean, or Inga Edulis as they are officially known, is in the same family as green beans and peanuts!
Sucking it off the beans is similar similar to sucking gooey mango off the pit… only this time the goo is vanilla flavored!
Their pulp is a good source of antioxidants, dietary fiber, polyphenols, and anti-inflammatories. The seeds are inedible raw, but once roasted they are tasty and full of protein!
The texture is that of a chewy cotton candy with a juicy finish. Ice Cream beans are often eaten raw, straight from the hand. They can also used as a dessert flavoring, though be careful to not over-cook as this will compromise their delicate exterior and textural integrity.
One option is to slowly steep the bean and add it to the ice-cream we are all more familiar with. Or you can add the pulp to chocolate, coffee, cream, custard, almonds, allspice, cardamom, caramel, cinnamon, clove, ginger and fruits, especially pear.
Try them out for a new healthy treat and tell us what you think!
Aubrey Yarbrough manages the Playa Vista, Westwood and Hermosa Beach Farmers' Markets for Farmer Mark. Before moving to LA she ran her own organic farm and cooked on the garde manger station at the award winning Elements restaurant in Princeton, NJ. She has contributed to Edible Jersey and her poetry will appear in the forthcoming issue of New American Writing.