The national fruit of Jamaica also requires extreme care—although it’s beloved in dishes like ackee and saltfish, it’s also known to cause Jamaican vomiting sickness, according to Medscape. That’s because when it’s unripe, ackee contains a poison called hypoglycin A. The fruit is only safe to eat when it has turned red and opened of its own accord. At that stage, it reveals large black seeds that are poisonous at all stages, as is the skin. Only the yellow flesh is edible.
These berries aren’t usually grown commercially, but they’re pretty easy for foragers to find in the wild across Europe and the United States. They make delicious jams, compotes, syrups, and pies, according to the BBC, but only after they’re cooked. Raw berries (and the plant’s bark and leaves) contain a compound that can cause nausea—the CDC describes an incident in 1983 when a California religious group served fresh elderberry juice, and eight people suffered nausea, vomiting, cramps, and weakness, and some of them complained of dizziness, numbness, and stupor. Parts of the plant can also contain toxic substances—livestock animals have died after eating its roots and young leaves. Check out the weirdest, grossest foods people eat around the world.
“If you’re an experienced mycologist, it’s a great hobby for you,” Winter says. “You know what you’re doing, you know what to avoid.” If, on the other hand, you’re not completely sure what kind of mushroom you’re looking at, don’t pick it. The death cap mushroom’s toxins totally resist cooking and will cause severe illness within hours, leading to coma and eventually death in half of the people who eat it, according to Britannica.com. Numerous other slightly less toxic varieties can cause long-term liver and kidney damage if ingested.