Ice Cream Beans / Monkey tamarind – A long podded fruit with white creamy pulp inside!!
The Ice Cream bean tree grows very quickly, usually fruiting within three years of germination. It typically reaches heights of 17 meters and develops a broad spreading canopy, ideal for shading other crops and landscaping. The yellow and white pompom-like flowers give way to the bean pods which ripen periodically throughout the year. Ice Cream beans can range from .3 to 2 meters long and have thick fibrous walls. The inner cottony pulp is sweet and snowy white with a flavor that is, not surprisingly, reminiscent of vanilla ice cream. The texture is that of a chewy cotton candy with a juicy finish. Large green or black seeds are imbedded in the pulp, and are inedible unless cooked. Ice cream bean tree is considered a nitrogen fixer, so you can plant the tree in soil with high nitrogen to help balance the soil.
The ice cream bean tree can adapt to many soil types, including acid soil, but does well in well-drained soil. Plant the tree outdoors in full sun. Keep an area at least 3 feet from the trunk free of weeds. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch in a circle around the tree, but keep the mulch about 6 inches away from the trunk.
MAINTENANCE OF PLANTATION
Although these trees tolerate drought once established, you’re going to get a better looking tree and a more abundant crop if you water it during prolonged drought. A 3 foot (1 meter) weed free zone around the tree will prevent competition for moisture. Ice cream bean trees never need nitrogen fertilizer because, like other legumes, it produces its own nitrogen and adds nitrogen to the soil. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer about once a month, if desired. Trees grow rapidly without fertilizer, but you can add fertilizer to further boost growth. Nitrogen application is not necessary, but trees with dropping leaves especially benefit from potassium fertilizer.
This tree needs periodic pruning to maintain its appearance and good health. Prune the tree as desired to shape the plant and control its size. Ice cream bean trees can withstand heavy pruning, which is best done in late winter or early spring. Always remove dead and diseased branches as they occur. Remove rubbing and crossing branches to maintain an open canopy with even sunlight penetration and air circulation
HARVEST YOUR ICE CREAM BEANS
Harvest the beans as you need them. They don’t keep, so you’ll never need to do a large harvest. Trees grown in containers stay smaller than those grown in the ground, and they produce fewer beans. The reduced harvest isn’t a problem for most people because they don’t harvest beans from the hard-to-reach upper parts of the tree anyway. The fruits of Ice-cream bean are harvested when it is full ripe as the pulp is needed. No big amount of fruit is harvested at once. The tree is said to provide shade, for many years over the under crop of coffee, tea or cacao.Any pods left on the ground should be picked up and used or discarded to prevent the seeds from germinating. Ice cream bean tree can become invasive because the seeds germinate easily and self sow when pods fall to the ground.