Inga bean or bean ice cream is a pod of a tree grown in Central and South America, which grows wild in some areas and in others. It grows productively on river banks, in swamps or where there is a good amount of water and creates a long bean or pod. The matter inside taste like vanilla ice cream.
The trees that produce inga beans grow to 60 feet in tropical areas. They have flat tops with spreading branches and a distorted gray trunk. The leaves are about 4 to 10 cm long lance shaped and come in four to six couples on a leaflet. They are dark green, bronze in color and watch TV-like. Flowers appear at the top of the stems are very fragrant and bloom from June to October in most regions, and in March or April in Brazil. The pods or beans grow up to 6 feet long and are slightly twisted, flat and brown when harvested. Within the pod green seeds wrapped in a white cotton-like pulp.
The tree needs tropical temperatures and does not tolerate temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It also requires a high level of humidity, which is why it grows very well in swamps and tropical rain forests. Propagation is by seed and grows wild from the tree dropped seeds. If cultivated, the seed is sown directly in the field about 3/4 inch below the surface of the earth. Seed is often away from rain or water present, so many choose to grow beans in pots washed inga. The plant will germinate in two to three days and have up to one month before planting it be shaded out. Older trees prefer full sun and protection from the wind. Inga trees will grow in any type of soil, but do not tolerate drought.
Trees produce bean pods or 3 years after planting. Pods are drawn as they mature. They are continuously produced so there is no real set harvest.
Many landscapers in the tropics with the tree in gardens and courtyards for its interesting shape and ability to provide shade. Pre-Columbian coffee, cocoa and tea growers wore inga bean trees to shade their crops because they grew quickly, the fertility of the soil and prevent erosion. Wood from the tree was strong and not easily rot. Early indigenous tribes used as upright beams of their homes. Excerpts from the tree made fuel for fires on cold evenings. The pods make good food for pigs and for the people as a snack or as an ingredient in the desert recipes. The bean is a vegetable and considered a fruit and can be eaten straight from the tree. Break the bean or pod open and find a cotton material surrounding green seeds. Exploit the white vanilla material and eat immediately. Boil the seeds make a nice vegetables, roast or a tasty snack.