The first time we tasted Jackfruit we were hooked. The ripe fruit, which looks like a bunch of yellow or orange pods, taste like a mix of several fruits. It’s a clean fruit flavor, sweet but not cloyingly so. The flesh of the fruit is firm, but tender. We couldn’t resist it once we tasted it. It’s really addictive. Like crack addictive, but in a good way.
The giant, prickly jackfruit is one of the strangest things we see at our neighborhood market. Native to South Asia, the fruit can grow to nearly 100 lbs. And a single tree can produce as many as 200 jackfruit. That’s a lot of food!
Unripe jackfruit is used as a substitute for meat in curry dishes. It’s popular with vegans and other hippy types who use it to recreate a meatless version of BBQ pulled pork. Just google jackfruit pulled pork and you’ll find a plethora of videos. Most of them use the canned variety. If that’s all you can find great, but if you can find fresh, it’s worth the effort. Its subtle flavor makes it a perfect match for all kinds of spices and sauces.
Each fruit pod contains a big seed. They’re edible and they’re delicious too. Once cooked, the texture is something like a cross between potato and chestnut. Like unripe jackfruit, the seeds are used in curries. They’re great roasted or boiled. We used then in a breakfast hash and thought they were a perfect compliment to roasted potatoes, carrots, and fennel.
This is a sustainable food (at the moment) that can be produced inexpensively and as such, may be a shining spot in an otherwise challenging global food system. Buy it and you’re supporting an ecologically sound agricultural product.
Jackfruit may not be easily found outside major metro areas with large Asian communities. But if you see it, don’t let its size and exterior texture intimidate you. Take it home, cut into it, and taste what might be the “perfect” fruit flavor. Be warned, however, that the fruit releases a sticky latex sap when you cut into it. This is particularly true of green, unripe fruit. We recommend you lather on some cooking oil before handling it. Oil will clean the sticky stuff off your knives as well. The rest is easy!