Everything You Need To Know About Jackfruit
While common in many parts of Asia, Jackfruit is less familiar here in the West, but can be found in many Asian markets or specialty grocery stores. Due to it’s spiky appearance, jackfruit is also known as “alligator fruit” in some parts of the world. However, despite its unusual look, the inside is tender, juicy and full of flavour.
What you might not know is that the flavour is a mix of tropical meets tutti-fruity, a combination that heavily influenced the taste of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Chances are, if you love Juicy Fruit you’ll find that you like jackfruit, too.
How to Select and Store Jackfruit
Jackfruit has the distinction of being the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. Most jackfruit is somewhere in the 12 to 20 lb. range, but can be as small as 2lbs. Unripened jackfruit will have a firm, green, tightly spaced spiky outside, although the spikes aren’t as sharp as durian spikes. Fully ripened jackfruit will have a softer outer rind, more spaced out spikes, and will give off a very fruity aroma.
Once jackfruit is ripened, the rind tends to turn brown rather quickly, however don’t be alarmed! The inside fruit should still be delicious. The riper your jackfruit is, the less sticky sap it will have.
The flesh should be firm, dry to touch but juice to bite, and almost crunchy, and deep yellow or orange. A ripe jackfruit will also emit a mild, musty aroma.
Sometimes known as “meat fruit”, jackfruit takes on a meaty texture when immature and unripe (also green). It can be successfully used in vegetarian recipes to replace or replicate shredded chicken or pork.
Jackfruit is often sold whole, or precut like melon halves in grocery stores. One jackfruit yields a large amount of fruit, so many smaller households opt to buy the smaller cut segments.
Whole jackfruit can be stored at room temperature for up to five days or in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. The flesh can also be frozen for up to three months.
How To Prepare Jackfruit
Jackfruit is cumbersome to peel as the rind secrets a sticky sap that adheres to whatever it comes in contact with. Be sure to wear gloves and cover your work surface with newsprint (or use an oiled cutting board) to protect you hands and countertops if you plan on cutting up a whole piece of jackfruit. It might also be helpful to oil the blade of your knife to keep the fruit from sticking to it.
Store the harvested jackfruit flesh in the fridge for up to a week (although it’s best consumed as quickly as possible!)
Jackfruit seeds can also be consumed, and are best enjoyed broiled or roasted, like chestnuts. Be sure to discard the core and skin of the jackfruit because both are inedible.
- Jackfruit has a spiky appearance like durian, but jackfruit is typically larger and with smaller spikes.
- Jackfruit doesn’t fare well in cold climates, so with the exception of some parts of Florida and Hawaii, it’s mostly grown in Asia.
- Jackfruit can be eaten in cooked dishes when unripe. The flavour and texture is said to be similar to shredded chicken or pork and is often used as a meat substitute. People typically are able to find canned unripened jackfruit, it’s unlikely you’ll find unripened jackfruit fresh.
Jackfruit Goes Well With
Produce: bananas, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, garlic, ginger, leeks, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mushrooms, onions, peas, potatoes, and tomatoes
Herbs & Spices: bay leaf, cilantro, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric
Other: barbeque sauce, cashews, coconut milk, molasses, rice, and soy sauce
Jackfruit Serving Ideas
- Jackfruit lends itself well to dessert recipes, like this jackfruit sticky rice and this jackfruit brown sugar cake.
- Jackfruit can also boost the flavour of a breakfast smoothie.
- Although fresh jackfruit is often used in dessert, it can be included in curries like this Thai-inspired Jackfruit curry.
According to the Canadian Nutrient file, one cup (174 g) of raw, fresh jackfruit contains a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 40 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of protein, 40% of Vitamin C, 32% of Vitamin B6, 22% of potassium, 20% of magnesium, 19% of folate, 10% of fibre (2.6 g), 6% of Vitamin A, 6% of riboflavin, 4% of calcium, and 274 μg of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.