Saturday, September 6, 2014


Jackfruit? Huh? What's that? Ever have Juicy Fruit gum? Then you already know the flavor of jackfruit. It's want gives the flavor to Juicy Fruit. 

Jackfruit is one of those weird tropical fruits you don't find in the supermarket. It ranges in size from something smaller than a soccer ball to a giant 2' long and a foot in diameter. Those big ones are painful to pick up and hold because its rind is so prickly and sharp, and the dang jackfruit is heavy!  A couple of years ago I was given one of those giants. I barely made it to the car with my prize due to the pain it was causing on my tender arms. Besides, it weighed a ton! 
Right now jackfruit is in season. It's a neat fruit but hardly anyone bothers with it. First, it's hard to harvest. This odd buggah grows out the side of the tree's truck and big branches. That's really strange. Looks like some cancerous polyp growing along the poor tree's trunk. It's difficult to pick. You need a ladder for the high ones. And the big ones are really heavy so it's a challenge not to have them crash to the ground.

The interior of the fruit is extremely sticky with latex goo. It makes cutting the sections up rather interesting if you're not wearing gloves. In no time you're sticking to everything -- the fruit, your knife, the tabletop, your clothes, the plate or tray. And don't even dare to try to wipe your hands with a napkin! Big mistake! ........the voice of experience talking here. Plus I suggest avoid cutting it on a nice table top. That latex goo can stick to everything. 
When the fruit is ripe (it softens so that it has some give, plus it starts smelling like jackfruit) the latex almost, but not quite, disappears. Green fruits, which by the way are edible and used for cooking, gush lots of latex sap. But even ripe jackfruits gum up your knife and stick your fingers together. I've found that keeping water available (a hose or bowl of water) helps keep the latex goo-iness down. I also dip the knife in cooking oil which, while it helps, is not a complete solution. I don disposable gloves when cutting jackfruits so that my hands don't become glued to everything for hours and hours. 

The latex characteristic turns off most people. But those willing to learn how to work around it can make some pretty neat dishes with jackfruit. I've only eaten the actual little yellow "fruits" inside, but the stringy internal flesh and even the seeds are edible. I'm told that immature fruits are good for curries and stews. And the seeds are also edible, usually being boiled. I'm told they taste like chestnuts. 
(Above- I've dug out some of the pale yellow fruit segments. Each contains a single large brown seed.)

One of these days I'll explore and try different ways of preparing jackfruit. But for now I dig out the yellow "fruits" (arils) inside for eating. My favorite way of doing that is to remove the seeds and dehydrate the flesh. Once dried, I'll dust them with a little powdered sugar to help control the tackiness. But I've also stored the fleshy arils, sans seeds,  in plastic bags in the freezer, popping a few into a fruit smoothie. Yum. 
In this cross section above, you can see the light yellow arils (fruit) with their brown seeds, the stings that surround the individual arils, and the white latex oozing out. 
With small jackfruits I will cut it in half lengthwise then separate the arils and seeds. But with one like the buggah above that it too big for the knife I'll cut off one end then begin cutting the arils away from the main core. Like a pineapple, there is a firm core running through the center & down the length of the jackfruit. The base of the arils are attached to the core and the other end attached to the rind. 
This is what the core looks like after I've cut away most of the arils. I don't know if the core is used as human food, but when cooked my pigs love it. The pigs will eat anything I discard.....strings, small arils, seeds, rind. 

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