Get to know: Jackfruit
Everything you will need to know about jackfruit all in a single blog. The tropical tree that this large and prickly fruit grows on can reach a height of 25 metres and the fruit itself can weigh up to 35kgs! Jackfruit is often used in Southeast Asian cuisines where there is plenty to come by as the season for jackfruit is 9 months long. Young jackfruit is increasingly being recognised as a meat replacement for all kinds of recipes.
What is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a huge fruit, as mentioned above, it can weigh up to 35kgs and 36 inches long. In fact, it is the largest fruit that grows on a tree. Jackfruit has a similar appearance to durian, it is green, oblong and has a prickly shell, although it is not as spikey as durian and is often larger. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and is popular in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and India, plus many more!
Inside the fruit, there are large pale yellow pods that contain seeds and are attached to the fruit’s core. An unripe jackfruit, sometimes called young or green jackfruit, is extremely versatile and can be cooked in various recipes as a meat substitute as the texture is similar to chicken or can be pulled to imitate the texture of pulled pork. Ripe jackfruit can be eaten fresh and is often added to desserts.
The taste of a ripe jackfruit is sweet, similar to tropical fruits like pineapple or mango. Whereas, unripe jackfruit has more of a neutral flavour, similar to the flavour of a white potato. Cooked on its own may not be very interesting, but cooked with other ingredients, jackfruit can really take in all those flavours around it. It is a common misconception that the seeds are toxic, but that’s not the case. The seeds can be boiled or roasting with a similar taste to chestnuts.
Where to buy Jackfruit?
Buying a whole or even half a jackfruit is expensive outside its native countries in Southeast Asia, around £12/kg, but you can still find fresh jackfruit in small portions at Asian grocery stores and speciality stores. They are usually sold in 250g portions for fresh ripe jackfruit it is around £6 - £7 and unripe jackfruit it’s around £4.30 - £5. When purchasing the fresh ripe fruit, the smell will indicate its ripeness, the stronger the smell, the riper the fruit. Look out for dark spots on the fruit, this is not a good sign, its best to avoid this.
You can also buy jackfruit in canned, dried and frozen forms in shops and online stores. I usually buy the canned jackfruit as it is inexpensive. Jackfruit in brine (unripe - for savoury dishes) costs around £1.75 for a 565g can (drained weight 280g) and Jackfruit in syrup (ripe - for sweet dishes) costs around £2.30 for a 565g can (drained weight 230g).
Preparing and Cooking with Jackfruit
Preparing a whole green jackfruit takes a little work but it yields a lot of food, the extra fresh meat can be frozen for future use. Jackfruit has a natural latex, so wear gloves if you have a latex allergy or if you don’t want to get too messy. If you decide to work with bare hands, I would cover your hands in oil and also the knife, so they don’t get too sticky. Please do this with caution because there is a risk of slipping and injuring yourself.
Lay down newspaper or scrap paper over a large workspace, then firmly slice the jackfruit in half. Continue slicing the fruit until you have large chunks and leave the skin on. The most common ways to prepare is by using a pressure cooker or boiling. If using the boiling method, place the jackfruit chunks in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 45 minutes or until the inner flesh is soft. If you have a pressure cooker, 10 to 15 minutes is usually enough for the flesh to become soft.
Once the fruit is cooked, drain the water and leave it to cool off before taking the skin off and separating the meat from its seeds. The stringy part between the pods and skin can also be eaten, so make sure you keep that too. This is the stage you can freeze the meat for later use, once the fruit is cooked, you can then add it to any recipe you like. Need some instant inspiration, try our Jackfruit Thai Green curry here!
It is common for people to throw away the seeds, but you can eat them as long as they are cooked. Roasting the seeds like chestnuts or pumpkin seeds is the popular method. Once roasted, you can add these seeds to a salad, blend them down to hummus or ground into flour. It is really delicious, so I would recommend keeping the seeds to be turned into something useful and reduce food waste.
Health Benefits from Jackfruit
Jackfruit has many vitamins such as vitamins A and C as well as minerals. Raw jackfruit contains calcium, iron and is a good protein source. Although when bought in a can there are fewer nutrients which is common when fruit and vegetables are canned. Jackfruit also offers numerous health benefits such as having antioxidants and isoflavones, which helps to fight against hormone-dependant cancers. Jackfruit is also known to help indigestion and cure ulcers.
Next Read: A Culinary Journey Through Thailand
If you enjoyed reading our ‘get to know: Jackfruit’ blog post, please give this blog a star rating and comment if you are a fan of jackfruit or would love to try this fruit one day! Check out our blog for more interesting articles like this and subscribe for new recipes and posts. Always stay connected and follow us on Instagram and Facebook!