It grows abundantly in southeast India; it is the national fruit of Bangladesh. It grows all over Southeast Asia and you see it sold everywhere in Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. A tree can produce up to three tons of fruit per year. It is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. A jackfruit can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to three feet long. It looks a bit like an oblong honeydew melon with spikes.
The jackfruit is a cousin of the fig tree, mulberry tree, and breadfruit family. The name “jackfruit” comes from the Portuguese word “jaca”, which 16th-century explorers derived from the pronunciation of the Malaysian name for the fruit, “chakka”.
The inner meat of jackfruit has a yellow, mango-like color. Before you take a bite, it’s helpful to know what to expect. The gummy texture of the meat of the fruit can take some getting used to. People enjoy consuming the flesh (fruit pods) which are edible both ripe and unripe. Unripe it is stringy and tastes like an artichoke, some say like tofu. Ripe it has a unique sweet flavor like a combination of mango, pineapple, and banana, kind of like Juicy Fruit gum. The seeds are edible too, and some compare it to that of a brazil nut.
This fruit provides high levels of nutrition for people living in Southeast Asia and India. It is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, dietary fiber, and other important vitamins and minerals. Research has found that the flesh, seeds, and other parts of the plant may have the potential to treat or prevent some health conditions. The extract of the jackfruit root is believed to help cure diarrhea and fever.
Be aware – if you are allergic to birch pollen or diabetic this is not a good fruit for you. It can cause an allergic reaction or it may lower your blood sugar levels and affect your blood sugar control
Some people confuse jackfruit with durian, which looks similar. But there is a big difference – the smell. Durian has a strong odor that may not be pleasant to everyone; jackfruit smells sweet, like fruit. Durian is much smaller than jackfruit and the outside may have spiky thorns while a jackfruit has smooth bumps on its surface.
Today jackfruit is sought out all over the world, although it’s still exclusively grown in Southeast India and Southeast Asia. Jackfruit has become the go-to ingredient for vegetarian cooks. Jackfruit is a vegetarians dream.
The fruit is versatile; it can be used in sweet and savory dishes. It makes a fabulous substitute for meat dishes that traditionally contain pulled-pork, crab, tuna, etc. You can cook amazing dishes that give the sensation you are serving meat at your table. Plus it makes a great base for delicious desserts. The best part it is good for you. It’s important to note that jackfruit doesn’t have a high protein content, so you may still need a protein source if you are planning to use it as a main course.
While this fruit sounds like it was cooked up in a laboratory since it is so adaptable, the reality is that this fruit is made by mother nature herself. You gotta love her!