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How to Eat Inga Bean

The inga bean is famously known as the “ice cream bean”. That’s because these long legumes contain individual cream puffs of fruit that really do taste like the frozen dessert!

Inga bean pods have a waxy coating, with a golden color flecked with strokes of green when ripe. The inedible pod of the inga bean holds individual sections of gossamer white fruit that look like miniature clouds of cotton candy. The fluffy fruit easily separates from the husk and can be used in recipes or eaten raw as a sweet snack on the go. The hard seeds are toxic when raw, but can be cooked into delicious savory dishes.

Kids are awestruck by the floofy fruit, and will be pleasantly surprised by just how candy-like this rare fruit tastes. And who doesn’t love a good old fashioned seed spitting contest?

Eating an inga bean is easy once you know how. Keep reading to learn all about how to eat the inimitable inga bean!

Opening An Inga Bean

Before enjoying inga bean fruit, the fibrous, inedible pod must be removed. There are two primary ways to remove the inga bean fruit from the pod:

  • Beast Mode: Using your hands, bend the inga bean between two pod sections until it cracks open. Gently peel back the wall of the inga bean to reveal cottony balls of fruit. Pop out each individual fruit and discard the pod’s husk. Separate the seeds from the juicy white inga bean pulp.
  • Score!: Using a sharp paring knife, score the pod lengthwise around the bean. Then, gently pull the pod into halves with your fingers. Pull the fruit out of the pod and separate the seeds before eating.

Cooking Inga Bean Fruit and Seeds

Here are the most common ways to prepare the cottony fruit and the hard seeds of inga beans.

  • When cooking inga bean fruit, use gentle, low-heat cooking methods. The cottony pulp of the inga bean flesh should be heated minimally in order to retain its delicate vanilla flavor. High heat will zap the inga bean fruit’s delicate flavor. Syrups, simple compotes, delicate custards, light creams will take on the inga bean’s delicate and vanilla cotton candy flavor beautifully.
  • Hard, black inga bean seeds are tucked inside each individual section of fruit. The seeds of inga bean are toxic when raw, but are quite nutritious and safe to eat when fully cooked. Cooked inga bean seeds have a dense and starchy texture similar to a chickpea. Common inga bean seed cooking methods include baking, boiling and frying.

Drinking Inga Bean

Inga bean fruit can be enjoyed in many drink applications and recipes. Here are some easy ways use inga bean in your drinks:

  • Juicing: Because inga bean flesh is so delicate, it can be difficult to get significant yield. However, extracting even a small amount of inga bean juice can go far in cream, morning shots of fresh juice or cocktails. Carefully feed the delicate pulp into your juicer for a sweet vanilla juice. Inga bean flavor plays well with ripe pear, warm spices and nuts.
  • Smoothies: freeze the cottony fruit in ice cubes of yogurt, milk, or other puree to add to your favorite blended drinks that can use a sugary fruit kick.
  • Syrup: Gently simmer inga bean fruit in simple syrup to be used to sweeten cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Milks: Steep inga bean fruit in the dairy or plant-based milk of your choice for delicious milk teas, lattes and flavored creams.

Now you’re using your bean! Tell us how you use inga beans in your recipes by joining our private Facebook community of foodies and fruit geeks!

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