© Denzil Green
Jackfruit is related to breadfruit and figs. It is grown throughout South-East Asia. The trees will grow true to seed (not all fruit trees will.) The leaves are a glossy, dark green, and 4 to 6 inches long (10 to 15 cm.)
The fruit grows right off the tree trunk and the main branches. It has to: other branches wouldn’t hold the fruit because the fruit is seriously big. The fruit grows 13 to 35 inches long (35 – 90 cm) and 10 to 20 inches wide (25 – 50 cm.) It can weigh up to 100 pounds (45 kg.)
The skin of the fruit is more like a shell, with hard, spiny points all over it. The skin is pale green, ripening to a yellowy-brown.
When ripe, the fruit will give a little when pressed and be quite stinky (some people say more kindly “a sweet, musty smell”.) It does smell better when you get into it, like a combination of banana and pineapple.
When unripe, both the flesh and seeds can be cooked in curries or soups. It is fibrous, so it will hold its shape well in cooking. Sometimes you may see unripe Jackfruit, meant for cooking with, referred to as “cooking jackfruit.”
When ripe, it should sound hollow, like a melon. Ripe Jackfruit is mostly used for desserts.
When cut open you’ll see large seeds surrounded by edible flesh surrounded by fibre. The fibre is called the “rags.” It is used for cooking, or used fresh in fruit salads. It is high in pectin. Not everyone bothers to do anything with the rags, though.
There may be more than 100 or more seeds. The seeds, which are edible, are the size of nuts, and are encased in their own tough skin. Inside the skin, they are crisp like a nut. These seeds can be fried up or cooked in other ways. Sometimes they are boiled for 5 minutes, then roasted in some oil.
In Asian stores, you can buy them frozen in pieces, ground, or canned in syrup. In North America and the UK, Jackfruit is primarily available canned.
Jackfruit is considered a poor person’s food in India.
You need to peel and discard the skin. Before cutting open or peeling a Jackfruit, coat the knife and cutting board with a cooking oil on account of the latex. Unripe Jackfruit especially exude a lot of sticky latex.
Jackfruit is native to the foot of the Western Ghats in India.
Called “Inchora” in Bengali.