The jack fruit, (Artocarpus heterpyllus), is a large fruit that is related to the breadfruit, and the fig. It is a member of the mulberry family. It is oval, or oblong, and originates in the areas of Africa, Brazil, and Southeast Asia. It is believed to be native to the area around India and Malaysia. The jack fruit is very large, sometimes growing up to 100#. Jack fruit is also known by jak, jaca, and nangka.
The jack fruit is a pale green, or yellow skin and is covered in spiny knobs. It grows on a large, ornamental tree, 33 to 50 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet in diameter. The tree secretes a white, viscous liquid. The trunk produces flowers that are attached to the trunk by a large woody stem. The fruit will then grow off the trunk as well.
Jack fruit flesh can be categorized into two types: soft flesh and crisp flesh. Soft flesh has a sweet, fleshy pulp, and crisp flesh is less sweet, and juicy. The pulp is whitish, or yellow, that is golden when ripe. It contains numerous large seeds, about 50 to 500. The seeds range in size from 3/4” to 1 1/2”, and are whitish in color. They are edible. Everything else on the plant is inedible: skin, core, unfertilized flowers. When unripe, the jack fruit is eaten like a vegetable, when ripe, it is eaten like a fruit.
The jack fruit is popular in Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine. When unripe, the jack fruit flesh and seeds are used in curry dishes. When ripe, the sweet, but bland flesh is used in desserts. In the United States the fruit is only available canned. The fruit will only ripen after it has been picked.
When cut open the fruit contains a viscous juice, so it is best to oil your knife and your fingers first. When cutting an unripe fruit, it will smell like rotting onions. When cutting a ripe fruit, the smell will be like ripe pineapple or papaya.
Jack fruit is high in potassium. Dried jack fruit seeds contain the B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and sulfur.
© 2011 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
Cite me: Denlinger, J. (2011, April 7). Jackfruit. Retrieved from: FloridaChef.net