Everyone is loving Jackfruit at the minute, all those pulled jack fruit sandwiches and have you tried jackfruit ice cream? It’s incredible! But how much do we know about this strange fruit? Don’t let the spikes put you off, this is a super fruit in every way!! I’m lucky on my global wanders to have tried many varieties of jackfruit and different dishes. I’ve never met a jackfruit dish I didn’t like!
Here are 10 facts about this strange, spiky and wonderful fruit:
1) Jackfruit, the yellow bit we eat, is actually called an ‘aril’. It’s a flower and we eat the edible petals. One jackfruit contains hundreds of flowers and one tree can grow 250 fruits per year.
2) Jackfruit seeds are edible and healthy most people roast them. You can also boil them up and make a lovely attempt at hummus. Comes highly recommended.
3) It is said to smell and taste like a cross between very ripe bananas and pineapple, with a twist of apple and mango. It’s a confused fruit! I think that’s quite accurate but there is definitely a custardy, juicy fruit gum-ness there too.
4) There are many varities of jackfruit, some are pithy inside and some are very sweet and tender.
5) In Indonesia, they make chips out of jackfruit, called Kripik. You can buy them and eat them like crisps.
6) Jackfruit seeds, when roasted, taste like brazil nut crossed with a chestnut. You can boil, bake and roast them. They can also be ground into a flour.
7) Using jackfruit as a meat substitute is nothing new. In Thailand it’s sought after by vegetarians and historically called ‘gacch patha’ (tree mutton!)
8) In Indonesia, the wood of the jackfruit tree is used to maked the famous ‘gamelan’ drums. Popular in Bali (see video below). The leaves are also fed to cattle, but also make a nice alternative to other greens.
9) Every part of the jackfruit tree is medicinally beneficial, the bark, leaves, pulp, skin and roots. It is also antibacterial and anitviral.
10) Jackfruit is the heavyweight of all fruits, growing to four feet long and weighing in at over 35kgs. That’s a lot of burger right there!
Cooking wise, the main attraction to Jackfruit for me is the interesting texture, when unripe, nothing else gives that stringy, chewiness when cooked. It is meat-like and an ideal plant-based dish to serve meat eaters. Also the flavour is totally unique, in fact, Jackfruit is a very strange fruit indeed, like nothing else. As the world goes meat free (it’s happening!) we’ll be increasingly familiar with Jack. It’s going mainstream! Great news as the production of meat is THE number one cause of global warming.
I’ve been in Goa for a while and jackfruit grows everywhere. Jackfruit has been hailed as a ‘future food’, due to the fact that it grows so easy and is high in nutrition. It requires minimal fuss and pruning. One jackfruit can feed many and some say it will help to ease the issue of global hunger/ food security. Jackfruit is now being grown in parts Africa for example. But we all know really that there is more than enough food produced in the world, its more a question of distribution and ecomonics. I don’t think jackfruit alone is going to save the day.
For me, the country who does jackfruit the best is Indonesia. I’ve never been to a country where it is used so frequently. Almost every meal I had in a proper place had at least one dish using jackfruit. The dish ‘Gudeg’ is a stand out staple. Of course, it makes for a great dessert. It’s a very useful plant, although I have been warned that in places like Brazil, it can be invasive. This is probably not such a problem in rural Wales as it will only grow in warm places.
I also tried a ‘Pulled Jackfruit Burger’ in quite a cool little place in Yogayakarta, Indonesia. This is a contemporary twist on things and its great. You’ve probably tried one yourself? I’ll be cooking it when I get back to the UK for sure. Unfortunately, up here in the Himalayas, it’s not a Jackfruit zone. Great organic veggies though.
You can eat Jackfruit raw, I love it like that, but they have to be ripe. It’s also interesting when it pops up in a salad. Jackfruit originated in India and in the South you can find people selling it as a street snack and, of course, in parts of India it’s made into a curry. I know they sometimes make candies/ sweets out of the juice.
Jackfruit is easily confused with the pungent freak that is Durian (see below). Popular in South East Asia and banned from public transport there (it reeks like something gone way rotten and wrong). Durian is an acquired taste and once (or if) you can get over the stink, has an incredible flavour. When I did the TV show ‘Meat vs Veg’ I was tasked with wandering around the streets of London, trying to get people to try it. Some did and liked it, but most just looked sickened! Again, something totally unique. Go to Thailand, try it out. The Thai’s adore the stuff. Durian looks different, bigger spikes and doesn’t grow as large.
Nutrition wise, for something quite starchy, its got lots to offer. It’s low in calories with good levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 (which is quite rare). Its also a reasonable source of minerals and a good source of carbohydrates, fats, protein and has plenty of fibre. The seeds have plenty of vitamin A. Jackfruit has zero cholesterol.
Although it’s not exactly local (and you know we love our local produce) I guess there is little difference tucking into a pineapple or mango. Jackfruit is a treat and when you look at the prices, this makes it even more so. I think for a every now and again, taste of something different, you can’t beat Jack!
You can buy jackfruit canned in most countries and if you buy a whole jackfruit, be warned, they can be a trick customer. They ooze a white sticky liquid when cut into and it takes ages to pick out the little fruits, seperate the seeds etc. It is well worth it, the texture of a fresh jackfruit is different from the tinned.
Have you tried Jackfruit? How did you cook it? It seems like a fresh and new ingredient in the UK and beyond that everyone is falling for. We love it!
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Finally, some fascinating and hypnotic ‘Gamelan‘ music from Indonesia: