This just takes me back! I remember those days when my grandma would just take home this delectable ripe jackfruit for her grandkids. I have grown accustomed to eating this fruit since I was 5 years old. Now to this date, I’m still a lover of eating this fruit. But for vegans, it’s a ‘meat’ replacement, so I know many of you will love this one. Check out. BBQ Jackfruit Wraps, BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches, Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas.
What is jackfruit?
Artocarpus heterophyllus is the binomial/scientific name given to jackfruit, which it is typically grown in tropical climate regions. It is said to be native between the Western Ghats of southern India and the rainforests of Malaysia.
Beautiful places I must add, and I’m sure that the people or animals there must really enjoy this exotic fruit. Jack fruit is a part of the Moraceae family just like its cousin/relative breadfruit, whereby it is a perennial plant.
This evergreen and perennial tree are popularly grown in areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil, and Africa where it was originally cultivated until its widespread globally.
Now you can find the plant even in The Caribbean. Amazing right? The tree produces a fruit that Jamaicans particularly just are in love with! It’s like a treat to young kids. A fun fact is that a mature jackfruit/ jack tree yields about 200 fruits annually, while older trees bear up to 500 fruits per year.
The flowers or specifically, the inflorescences are formed on the trunk, branches, or twigs where inflorescences are a group /cluster of flowers formed from the shoot of its seeds where reproduction occurs.
Because Jackfruit trees are monoecious (having both female and male flowers on a tree) they have the ability to self-pollinate. The leaves on a jack tree are green and ovate/oblong in shape.
The common name jackfruit (even its alternate name- Jack tree) comes from when Randles Stewart suggested that the fruit be named after a Scottish botanist-William Jack (1795–1822)- who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra, and Malaya. Interesting right?
Jackfruit has an oblong shape that consists of a spiky and green or yellow exterior (skin) that has a bright yellow pulp when ripe; whereas the color is light yellow or cream/off-white when unripe.
How do I know when the fruit is ripe? Well, the skin gives a green-yellow hue or slightly yellow-brown, while when it is unripe the skin is green.
The pulp has pod-like partitions (arils) that are like the length of your pinky finger, that surrounds its cream core. You can have more than 40 pods in one jackfruit, where each pod surrounds a brown oblong seed that has a waxy light brown coating (testa) as a shell.
A fun fact is that jackfruit is the largest fruit tree that bears a large fruit that weighs about 120 pounds! According to research studies its fruit is about 90.5 cm (35.63 inches) in length, and 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter. That’s massive right?!
Some jackfruit aliases are artocarpus heterophyllus, jack tree, jak, jaca, nangka, cowa (Trinidad) khanun, khnor, maki mi, may mi, and Jamaican jackfruit just to name a few.
What does Jackfruit taste like?
There are different flavors and textures of jackfruit when ripened. Some have a soft texture while some are a bit chewy or crisp. I personally prefer the more chewable ones because I don’t like when it’s too soft.
As for its flavor, it’s usually either sweet or mildly sweet that is quite juicy (especially, when it’s soft). It has a burst of flavors that remind you of ripe bananas, a hint of pineapple, and a nice touch of ripe mango.
The texture and flavor aforementioned are usually dependent on the ripeness of the fruit. But be careful when eating, that juice can be sticky! Especially, for overripe jackfruit.
You can eat even unripe jackfruit which it gives a neutral flavor that when seasoned, combines/blends naturally with the flavor present, so its consistency is normally compared to chicken or pork.
For example, a famous and delicious barbecue pulled ‘pork’ sandwich makes you question if it’s really unripe jackfruit used instead of the meat-pork. Many wouldn’t believe it’s actually vegan. A good thing to note is that the aroma of jackfruit is quite potent.
Season and storage
The fruit is seasonal; hence, jackfruit is typically harvested from March to June or from April to September, which is dependent on the region where it is grown/cultivated. As stated earlier, jackfruit is a perennial so it doesn’t require constant replanting. However, it won’t be an instant payoff for new farmers because the tree takes five to seven years to bear fruit.
After properly taking out the pod-like pulp and discarding the seed, then you can place the pulp in an airtight container or a zip resealable bag. You can store them in the refrigerator which lasts for about 6 days or in the freezer and it will last for about 50-55 days.
How to eat it
Jackfruit is mostly eaten raw in its ripe form, especially by Jamaicans. How to do this is by using a knife to cut the fruit in half vertically. Once that is done you choose to cut the two halves again- thus, making them now quarters.
Cut out the core (the off-white sticky section in the center, covering some of the pods) then carefully discard. Start tearing out the pod-like yellow pulp, then open it and take out the seed. Once that is done, it’s good to go for consumption!
You can repeat the process for the other pods then eat it or do it for all by placing them in a clean container. Once you have successfully removed all seeds then you can sit and enjoy.
Be careful, as jackfruit can be quite sticky, especially, the white sticky substance it excretes from the core. You can avoid this by adding oil to your hands and the knife you use for easy removal or just wear gloves.
Please note that the skin should be discarded. However, the seeds are edible and are eaten roasted, but the waxy coat should be removed first.
Jackfruit can be cooked too, as many use it in their cuisines. A fun fact is that jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as the state fruit of the Indian states of Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It’s that popular! Therefore, you have many fresh ripe jackfruit recipes whether Indian, African, Caribbean, American, Southeast Asian, or other cuisines. A popular meal/recipe to prepare is the ripe jackfruit curry recipe. Other meal ideas for cooking ripe jackfruit are:
- Jackfruit masala (India)
- Green jackfruit and potato curry (West Bengal)
- Jackfruit fried in coconut oil (Kerala)
- Jackfruit aril jam (Africa)
- Jackfruit Seed Hummus (dip from the Middle East)
You can always google ways how to cook ripe jackfruit and you may never know, we might have a recipe coming up! Whoops! Did I just spill a secret? Stay tuned!
Vegan Jackfruit Recipe
- Vegan Jackfruit Stew
- Instant Pot Vegan Jackfruit And Potato Curry
- Jackfruit Curry Recipe
- Jackfruit Seed Curry
Where can I buy jackfruit?
You can purchase the fruit at your local farmer’s market, or supermarket and you can even get ripe jackfruit online. It is available globally canned or frozen in chilled meals and in various products like noodles and chips.
Health Benefits of Ripe Jackfruit
Now, claps and rub hands together, get some juice or tea because we are about to dive in to answer the question what is jackfruit good for? As usual, we like to give you the nutrition present first before diving into the benefits. With that said, the following are the nutrition of ripe jackfruit but are not limited to:
- Vitamin A- RAE
- Vitamin C- Ascorbic Acid
- Vitamin B1- Thiamine
- Vitamin B2- Riboflavin
- Vitamin B3- Niacin
- Vitamin B5- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin B6- Pyridoxine
- Vitamin B9- Folate
- Vitamin E- Alpha-tocopherol
- Carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein zeaxanthin)
- Selenium (traces)
- Vitamin D (a few traces)
Phew! A long list, right? I can see why many would consider it a superfood. But now that we know the nutrients, minerals, and other compounds found in jackfruit, let’s jump right to its health benefits. Read More.
Top 3 health benefits
Rich in antioxidants
One of the best benefits of antioxidants is that it helps to prevent diseases- for example, heart disease. How do they do this? By fighting against and neutralizing free radicals found in your body that are highly reactive.
Free radicals are the end result of oxidation, exposure to smoke, and ultraviolet light. A few powerful antioxidants found in jackfruit are; Vitamin A, Vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavanones. Where all four have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to prevent heart diseases, cancer, type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
May improve the immune system
Iron, Vitamins A, B6, B9, C, D (a few traces), and E, zinc, selenium, and protein are magnificent for improving the immune and are well-known as the top components to do so.
Guess what? Jackfruit has all of the nutrients and minerals stated above! What’s so awesome about a healthy immune system?
Your immune system has two types- innate and adaptive that help your body to fight against bacteria, diseases, infections, and viruses.
A fun fact about the immune system is that it records and stores information about each antigen or microbe that it has ever destroyed. So, that it can easily recognize and then quickly destroy them quicker than it has before if these germs re-enter the body again.
May reduce high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
It shows in Studies that food that contains a low glycemic index (GI), helps to maintain or control blood sugar levels. Jackfruit has a low GI, whereby, this benefit is linked to jackfruit’s content of flavonoid antioxidants- widely recognized for their ability to promote balanced blood sugar levels.
The nutrient magnesium, as well as other antioxidants present in jackfruit, helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Improve digestion.
- It May help to regulate blood pressure.
- May improve vision.
- May improve skin health.
- May fortify bones, teeth, and muscles.
- May fight inflammation.
- May assist with asthma.
- May prevent anemia.
- May be an energy booster.
- May improve wound healing.
- May assist in repairing blood vessels/muscles/cartilage/teeth.
There aren’t any major notable side effects of consuming fruit except for diabetic individuals. It is advised that you do not consume the fruit while on medication.
This goes for persons who are to do surgeries that will have to consume medication during and even after. A third side effect is eating it with dairy products, especially, milk.
This may lead to indigestion and according to research, skin disease. A fourth side effect is for those who are allergic to a substance present in it. Apart from the aforementioned, it is quite ok to consume, however, consult your physician first.
An interesting notation is that jackfruit may be higher in some vitamins and minerals than apples, apricots, bananas, and avocados.
It’s just amazing how so many nutrients can be packed in this fruit and just fruits overall. Because these natural substances were made for us to consume and we waste our opportunities to enjoy them.
Sometimes, you might even wonder to yourself, this had in so much nourishment? So, it gives us great joy to either introduce or re-introduce you to some of these healthy foods. We’d like to cover all, but there’s a plethora of them!
So instead, we try to do as many as possible. But you can assist us too! Send in a request and tell us what you’ll like to know about, or just leave a comment. We love hearing from you, you all are truly amazing.
More Exotic Fruits
- Sweet Sop
- Star Apple Caimito
- Tuna Fruit
- Black Sapote
- Yellow Dragon Fruit
- Ground Cherry
- Seville Orange
- Yellow Guava
- Golden Kiwi
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