Ever take an ice cream bean for dessert?
Money may not grow on trees, but ice cream beans yes! Discovered in Central and South America, ice cream beans are legumes that when split open, produce lima-bean sized seeds wrapped in a fluffy covering that looks like cotton candy and its flavor is similar to vanilla ice cream.
In tropical swaths of Central and South America, you can find candy bars long about 30 centimeters, dropping from tree branches. Produced by Inga trees, ice cream beans are actually legumes, and like many seeds, they appeal to our sweet tooth to get to know. As far the “vending machines”, Inga trees are very generous. They grow tall enough (18 meters or more) and farmers plant them for timber and shade for other crops. This means lot of ice cream beans, and naturalists have found sweet, sweet pods that measure over 1,80 meter, like a person!
In countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, local people eat ice cream beans raw. So do monkeys and other animals that enjoy this snack. Other roast the otherwise inedible seeds as a snack and mix ice cream beans into chocolate, coffee, or cream.
Ice cream beans are sold in markets. But if you’re in Central or South America, it’s worth researching that there are Inga trees near you!