Plant Description  

Plant Description

Ice Cream Bean is a tropical fast growing evergreen tree with a broad, spreading, moderately dense crown. The plant usually grows up to 20 meters tall, though specimens up to 30 meters have been recorded. The cylindrical bole is often contorted; it can be up to 60 cm in diameter, often branching from near the base. The branches form a broad, flat, moderately dense canopy. It can be evergreen in tropical regions and deciduous when planted in colder regions. The bark is pale grey and smooth, with pale elongated lenticels. The young twigs and stem are angular in cross-section and are covered in fine short brown hair. The plant is found growing in riverine flood plains, upland woods at edge of rivers, adjacent rainforests, moist, wet, or sometimes rather dry forest, or in open places, thickets, wooded swamps and margins of large rivers. The plant flourishes in soils of all types within an extended pH range of 4-8. It can handle some waterlogging and short drought periods.


The leaves are alternate, evenly pinnate, 10-30 cm long, with 4 to 6 pairs of opposite dark-green, membranous, slightly pubescent, oval leaflets. The terminal pair of leaflets is larger than the basal pair. The terminal leaflets can grow up to 18 cm long by 11 cm wide in comparison to the basal ones. Between each leaflet there is a nectary gland on the leaf rhachis and these are large (2 to 3 mm) and squashed transversely, an important character for identifying the species. The leaflets and rhachis are covered in dense, short, rough brown hair. The seedlings have a characteristic grayish sheen on the upper leaf surface.


The inflorescences are dense axillary spikes of flowers, each consisting of a calyx tube with 5 lobes (4 to 9 mm long), a corolla tube with 5 lobes (13 to 25 mm long), and a large number of white stamens up to 4.5 cm long, united in a tube in the lower half. Flowers are usually fragrant, sessile and pentamerous. In humid climates the plant may flower throughout the year, but in regions with a short dry season it is most likely to flower at the beginning of the wet season. Normally flowering takes place between Feb and May. The inflorescences may not have many flowers open at the same time, but they are usually conspicuous.


Fertile flowers are followed by longitudinally ribbed, cylindrical indehiscent leguminous pods which can be straight, curved or often spirally twisted up. They are pendant and up to 1 m long and yellowish brown to greenly colored. Inside the pods there are green seeds covered by edible sweet, cottony, creamy pulp, white in color which gives it the name Ice cream bean, since they taste sweet. The amount of ovoid seeds can vary from 10–20, which are purplish-black to olive colored. The fruits become ripe during the wet season in the rainforest. The flesh is very popular among the birds and monkeys in the area, who discard the seeds as they eat it.


The Ice Cream bean’s native range ranges from Mexico in the north to the Amazon rainforest in the south. It has since been naturalized in tropic and sub tropic climates throughout the globe. The trees are frost sensitive, but thrive in warm climates where sunshine is plentiful. Due to their fast growing dense canopies, Ice Cream bean trees are often grown to provide natural shade for cacao, coffee, tea and vanilla plants. They also naturally fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, enriching the surrounding earth and benefiting nearby crops.

Use and Preparation

Traditional uses and benefits of Ice Cream Bean

  • Decoction of the crushed leaves is taken to relieve coughing.
  • Decoction of the leaves is applied to sores of the lips.
  • Arils are used to prepare an alcoholic beverage called cachiri for a festival of the same name in Colombia.
  • Native women chew the arils and spit the mixture into a vat, where it is left to ferment.
  • Decoction of the leaves, bark or root commonly are utilized as treatments for diarrhea, arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Crushed, boiled leaves are consumed to relieve coughing or applied to lip sores, possibly caused by herpes.
  • Leaves help to cure headaches and nerve problem.
  • Root decoction can be enhanced with pomegranate rind, and then used to cure cases of diarrhea and dysentery.
  • Dropsy and digestive problems can be treated with the bark and the fruit.
  • Bark and fruit are used for irritations of the raucous lining of the intestines.
  • Cuna Indians used the plant as a nervine for headaches.

Other Facts

  • It is commonly planted as a shade tree in coffee and cacao plantations.
  • It is used for making packing cases, and especially for making piles.
  • The wood is used for fuel.
  • A popular source of firewood, the wood has a high calorific value and burns with little smoke.
  • Cuttings and leaves are also used as mulch and animal fodder


Inga Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Nothing makes a fruit geek feel more loved on their special day than a homemade birthday cake using rare tropical fruit! Because the cottony fruit of inga beans is known for its party-in-a-pod flavor of spun sugar and delicate cinnamon, we thought a fluffy inga bean frosting should be a thing.

In this recipe, heavy cream is infused overnight with delicate chunks of inga bean fruit to add sugary fragrance and flavor. The inga bean infused cream is then whipped together with cream cheese for a lightly sweetened frosting that’s as perfect for frosting as it is between layers of cool, freshly baked cake. Keep reading to learn how to make this easy, all-ages celebration cake frosting recipe using inga beans!


  • Prep time: 30 minutes active, 8 hours inactive
  • Good for: parties, desserts, kid friendly, gluten free
  • Difficulty: medium

Inga bean frosting begins by cold infusing heavy cream overnight with fresh, cotton ball chunks of inga bean fruit. Then, sweet softened cream cheese is combined with freshly infused inga bean cream to create a frosting that’s sturdy yet light, with a creamy canvas that makes inga bean’s cotton candy ice cream flavor shine!


  • chef’s knife (non-reactive, ceramic or plastic knife preferred to minimize fruit bruising)
  • cutting board
  • two sealed containers, four and six cup minimum capacity, respectively
  • mesh sieve
  • hand mixer
  • one large mixing bowl
  • one medium mixing bowl
  • rubber spatula


  • 1 cup inga bean fruit (roughly and minimally chopped, seeds removed)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons


  • Prepare the inga bean infused cream by combining heavy cream and chopped inga bean flesh in a sealed container, and store in the refrigerator overnight (about eight hours). Strain the infused cream through the sieve into the large mixing bowl, pushing as much liquid from the inga bean fruit pulp as possible. Discard the pulp or reserve it for an alternate use. Refrigerate while preparing the cream cheese to keep it cold.
  • Using a hand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese in the medium mixing bowl on low speed until very smooth while gradually adding ½ cup of granulated sugar. Beat the cream cheese and sugar mixture until well combined and slightly fluffy.
  • In the large mixing bowl, beat the inga bean infused heavy cream and two tablespoons of sugar until thick and foamy, but not too firm.
  • Fold ¼ of the cream mixture into the cream cheese using a rubber spatula until well combined. Slowly add in the cream mixture while beating until fully incorporated and very fluffy.
  • Refrigerate in a large sealed container for about one hour before using. The frosting stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Enjoy this creamy confection starring inga bean fruit on pound cake, as a cake frosting or spread on some simple toast. Gently fold in the reserved inga bean flesh from the cream infusion into the frosting for a chunkier texture that makes a ridiculously delicious cookie dip. Enhance the flavor of this inga bean frosting using warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

How did you like this inga bean recipe? Try even more inga bean recipes from our blog.

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Nutritional value

Health benefits of Ice Cream Bean

Ice Cream Bean is packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C, fiber and protein. Listed below are some of the good reasons why you need to add it to your diet

1. Eyes Health

Ice cream bean consists of good amount of vitamin A compositions which is actually good to maintain the health of eyes. Consuming ice cream bean on a regular basis helps to make your vision clearer and sharper. Your eyes will be not easily suffered from the night blindness or cataract. Carotenoid or beta carotene is natural essence contained in the fruits or vegetable which has red, yellow, or orange color. The function of beta carotene is to convert the color essence of the vegetables and fruits to be vitamin A and therefore being the source of vitamin A.

2. Helps in weight loss

The fruit tastes like vanilla ice cream and is also low in calories. This makes it used as a flavoring agent in various types of desserts by people who are watching their weight or are health conscious. The fruit is also low in cholesterol so it is well suited for those people who already suffer from high cholesterol levels.

3. Muscle Health

Ice cream bean is quite useful for developing body muscle. The most effective way to maximize the benefits of ice cream bean for muscle health is by consuming the beans while doing regular sport. The beans will work to form the mass muscle. In continuous exercise, you will the result immediately.

4. Maintain Heart Health

It is not overstated to say that heart is one of the very essential organs for the human life. Therefore, you need to maintain and keep the organ healthy earlier in order to prevent many diseases attack in the future. Maintaining the healthy life style and diet menu moderation are the easiest way to health your attack and the food you need to consume is ice cream bean.

5. Treats dysentery

Dysentery is bloody diarrhea that is commonly caused by Shigella species or Entamoeba histolytica. Patients suffer loose stools that may contain a lot of red blood. Ice cream bean fruits, seed or bark are considered quite beneficial to treat this issue. There are numerous ways to cook the bark and seeds that can offer relief for people suffering from this condition.

6. High Cholesterol Treatment

Ice cream bean can be used to cure high cholesterol which can lead to multiple horrible diseases. While increasing the portion of ice cream bean, you also need to decrease the consumption of red meat such as beef and lamb. If you do it regularly, your high cholesterol can be instantly reduced.

7. Balances Blood Sugar

Ice cream bean consists of good amount of protein and fiber. Due to its high level of fiber and protein, the work of kidneys to control the blood sugar in the blood is much easier. Higher protein and fiber is also well known as the natural treatment to control the blood sugar. The bean has low level of natural sugar which will not create incline of blood sugar.

8. Make Bones strong

Ice cream bean is a good source of calcium and mineral compositions which helps to strengthen the bones and makes them stronger and healthier. Thus several scientific researchers have recommended consuming the bean in order to prevent the osteoporosis of the bones.

9. Stay Full Longer

Consuming ice cream bean will make you feel full longer without easily get hungry anymore. This is due to the ability of the beans to prevent the excessive appetite. It surely will benefit you if you are in diet mode. The beans can make you full and health as well.

10. Maintain Body Cells Health

The natural composition of the beans will get into the body cells and prevent from the broken and destroyed cells due to bacteria attack or free radical. This also results stronger protection from cancer cells growth.

11. Treats rheumatism

Rheumatism is a disease caused by inflammation and pain to the joins or muscles. Tropical fruits like Ice cream bean consist of huge amount of anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to keep the bones strong and offer relief from pain. You may also consume the bark and seeds as a preventive measure and avoid developing the disease altogether.

12. Cures Constipation

Ice cream bean is considered one of the wonderful anti-constipation foods. The bean is really good to smooth the digest system and make your digest organ healthier so that you can get rid of constipation.

13. Treats headaches

If you suffer from headaches, consume a good amount of these fruits as it contains a lot of healing properties. Those suffering from depression and anxiety mainly should include these fruit into their diet. It contains antioxidants that help produce the ‘feel good’ hormones and prevent depression symptoms.

14. Prevents Cancer

Ice Cream Bean fruits consists of compounds like flavonol quercetin, gallic acid and epicatechin which are anti-cancer. Including these fruits in your regular diet helps to reduce the risks of cancer.

15. Good for Digestion

Ice cream bean fruits help in digestion with the presence of trypsin and chymotrypsin which work to convert proteins into amino acids. Thus, nutritional benefit of foods is easily extracted.

16. Prevents Gas or Flatulence

Ice cream bean consists of good amount of chymotrypsin, due to which all risks of gas or flatulence is reduced. Consuming these on a regular basis helps in getting rid of chronic gas problems.

17. Treats Dysentery

The seeds of the fruit are highly nutritious. They work as an excellent health remedy for people suffering from dysentery. The seeds can be extracted, cooked and should be consumed to deal with dysentery.

18. Mood Enhancer

Consuming the fruit on a regular basis helps in reducing stress and anxiety being rich in antioxidants. It brings about positivity and high energy.