Jackfruit from A to Z: 26 Things to Know


What is Jackfruit? 26 interesting facts and figures about this delicious fruit used for both savory and sweet dishes.
Jackfruit from A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Aroma. Jackfruit peel may give off a rather unusual pungent smell reminiscent of… onion! However the real surprise comes with the pulp (consisting of multiple bulbs, each one of which contains a seed), endowed with a delicate floral aroma and a varying flavour of mixed fruits, with possible hints of apple, mango, almond, vanilla, pineapple, mandarin, peach and banana.

Brazil. There are three carioca varieties known as: "jaca-dura", with a firm flesh and fruits that can weigh as much as 15 to 40 kg; the soft-fleshed "jaca-mole" variety with smaller fruits and a sweeter taste; and finally the "jaca-manteiga", also known as the "butter" variety with its small fruits and sweet pulp and characteristic dense consistency.

Curry. In India, Nepal and Indonesia, the unripe flesh appears in many traditional curry recipes, for instance in Bangladesh and Padang (West Sumatra), where jackfruit curry is called "gulai nangka". Along with the pulp, in some parts of the world, the seeds are also added to curry, for example in the central state of Telangana and in the areas bordering the Andhra Pradesh.

Doce de jaca. A typical Brazilian sweet, almost a liquid dessert: bite-sized pieces of ripe flesh cooked in sugar and served straight from the fridge with their cooking liquid. However, this is not the only jackfruit dessert: another recipe is the Vietnamese "ché mít" served with or without coconut cream.

Es campur & es teler. These are typical Indonesian desserts, both served with jackfruit pulp and shaved ice. In the former, the recipe also calls for milk, coconut, "cincau" (grass jelly) and then more fresh fruit to taste; the other contains jackfruit together with avocado, fresh fruit, coconut (milk and pulp), condensed milk, sugar, gelatine, cocopandan syrup and a pinch of salt.

Fine dining. Chris Salans, world ambassador of Indonesian cuisine and owner-chef of the acclaimed Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique in Ubud (Bali), presents a dark chocolate cake with jackfruit and cashew sorbet, while the pluri-awarded Quay restaurant in Sydney has made history with its Jackfruit Snow Egg , a spectacular creation by Peter Gilmore.

Gudeg. A typical Indonesian stew made from jackfruit pulp, palm sugar, coconut milk and, according to the recipe, various flavourings and spices (garlic, shallot, coriander seeds, candlenut, galanga, bay leaves and teak leaves): after being cooked at length, this stew is normally served with steamed rice and eggs, tofu, tempeh, beef or chicken (in its turn stewed in coconut milk or fried).

Halo-halo. A typical Philippine recipe, it consists in a mixture of shaved ice and condensed milk to which various other ingredients are added: as well as jackfruit, it may contain pineapple and coconut jelly, "mungo" (sweet red beans), "sago" (tapioca jelly pearls), "ube" (a sweet purple-coloured tuber) and "pinipig" (a sort of puffed rice).

India. According to archaeologists, jackfruit used to be cultivated here between three thousand and six thousand years ago: the most corroborated legend has it that the earliest fruits grew in the rainforests of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. Going under the scientific name of "Artocarpus heterophyllus", it is now widespread throughout South East Asia as well as on the northern coast of Australia, in Brazil, the Caribbean, Florida and Africa.

Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit. The well-known spicy Jamaican sauce teams up well with unripe jackfruitpulp. By the way... apparently jackfruit reached the New World in 1782 when a French ship heading for Martinique was sidetracked to Jamaica: the fruit stored in its hold caught on so well with the local population that it was not long before it was being cultivated on Caribbean ground.

Kcal. 100 grams of fresh ripe jackfruit pulp contain around 95 kcal; it is also an excellent source of vitamin B6 and equally rich in fibre, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B1 and C.

Landau, Richard. The owner-chef of the Vedge, V Street and Wiz Kid, among the most popular vegetarian venues in Philadelphia, is enthusiastic about jackfruit even though he does not believe it can substitute meat in terms of flavour (on the contrary, he thinks it tastes of artichoke!): in his restaurants, for example, he serves it in unusual veggie “steaks” with tossed mushrooms and fried onions.

Madagascar & Mauritius. This fruit grows in great quantities in the Madagascan forests, in particular those of the Lokobe national park, while Mauritius (like Uganda) is well known for its cultivations.

Nepal. Also known as "rukh-katahar" (not to be confused with "bhui-katahar" meaning pineapple), in Nepal, apart from being consumed fresh when ripe and cooked when unripe in curried stews, it is also used to produce drinks of a low alcohol content.

Oil. Even though it is possible to extract oil from its seeds, it is not worthwhile for the food industry to do so because 100 g of jackfruit seeds produce no more than 4 g of oil.

Pulled. It is widely believed that jackfruit makes an excellent pork meat substitute, particularly in the famous "pulled" version (torn into filaments after "low and slow" grilling, with the typical smoky aroma of American BBQs).

Quality. A "green" jackfruit is simply an unripe fruit and does not indicate quality: in this stage, the pulp is creamy white and, in order to be edible, must be cooked. On the other hand, when the fruit is ripe, it has the attractive colour of butter or yellow pineapple and may be eaten either raw or cooked. When eaten fresh, jackfruit must be perfectly ripe so that the bulbs of the pulp can develop their typical fruity flavour to the full.

Reunion. Jackfruit first appeared on this French Island around 1780: it was initially imported from Bengala as a garden tree, and later became a must-have ingredient of the local cuisine. Its pulp is cooked with shrimps or smoked pork (the name of this dish is "ti'jac boucané"), while the seeds – first boiled and then roasted – are used to make sweet dishes. The locals also make a curious use of the arils (the outer covering of the seeds): as well as eating them raw, they use them to make jam or fruit preserved in syrup.

Seeds. Extracted from the ripe fruits and eaten fresh, they are sweet and their milky taste recalls that of Brazil nuts. When roasted, however, their flavour resembles chestnuts and they are used in the confectionery industry as a cocoa substitute (as an aroma). In some parts of the world they are even roasted and sprinkled with salt (as in Java where they are a popular snack) or they are fried (as in India in the district of Kodagu, in the Karnataka state).

Thailand. This country is one of the world’s major producers of jackfruit where it is principally used in the food preserving industry: in fact the fruit preserved in syrup or frozen which is distributed in Europe and the United States, is mainly imported from Thailand.

Unique. A fruit that is quite unique, even in numerical terms: apparently a jackfruit can contain up to 500 seeds and consequently 500 pulp bulbs!

Vocabulary & varieties. In Sri Lanka, unripe jackfruit is called "polos", while the ripe fruit goes under the names of "waraka" and "wela". In Bengala, green jackfruit, as well as being known as "aechor" or "ichor", is also called "gacch-patha": literally meaning, "tree mutton". While in Orissa (East India) it is called "panasa katha", in the central western Maharashtra state and in Goa, it is respectively named "fanas" and "panas" and comes in two varieties: "kaapa", this being the firm pulp variety, and "barka", "barkai" or "rasal" with soft pulp. On the subject of different varieties, in the Kerala state, you would find the firm-fleshed "varikka" and the "koozha", which is so soft as to be almost creamy. Finally, in Bengala and Jharkhand, the same varieties are called "khaja kathal" and "moja kathal", while in Mangalore (Karnataka) they go under the names of "bakke" and "imba".

William Jack. In order to trace the origin of the word "jackfruit" we have to start from the Portuguese word “jaca”, mingled with "chakka" of the Malayalam Dravidian language spoken in South India, which crept into the English language in 1563 thanks to naturalist Garcia de Orta in his Colòquios dos simples e drogas da India. Finally, in the 1800’s, the Scottish botanist William Jack, who happened to be in Malaysia, was so fascinated by the fruit that he redubbed it “Jackfruit” and sort of adopted it.

XXL. What a record-breaking delicacy this is: as well as coming from the largest fruit tree in the world, one single jackfruit may in fact grow to and even exceed 40 kg in weight and measure 90 cm in length! A single plant can grow to a height of over 25 metres and easily produce from 2 to 3 tons of fruit every year.

Youtube. How should you open and cut a jackfruit? On the universally known web platform there is a vast selection of tutorials and videos showing you how to tackle the job.

Zerega. Nyree Zerega is a famous researcher from the "Chicago Botanic Garden", who has made news by evidencing on more than one occasion the huge potential this fruit has for addressing an ever growing demand for food in the world’s poorest or developing countries.