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Jackfruit: The meaty Asian Fruit

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The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), also known as jack tree, jakfruit, or sometimes simply jack or jak) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family (Moraceae).

It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India, in present-day Goa, Kerala, coastal Karnataka, and Maharashtra.

The jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as in weight, in length, and in diameter.

What is jackfruit

The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food item in tropical regions of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Jackfruit is also found across Africa (e.g., in Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Mauritius), as well as throughout Brazil, west-central Mexico, and in Caribbean nations such as Jamaica.

Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and is called langka in the Philippines.

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What does jackfruit taste like?

Some say it’s sweet, and some say it has a flavor similar to pulled pork, especially when cooked. Unripe jackfruit is meatier and resembles beef or pork more than ripe. Honey jackfruit is sweet but most jackfruit is bland and can take on the taste of your dish very well.

Is jackfruit the stinky one?

Jackfruit can have a penetrating smell that can stay in your fridge or room for quite some time, but it’s still a sweet smell. The really stinky fruit is durian, which is banned from hotel rooms and airports throughout Asia.

Why does my jackfruit smell like gasoline?

Ripe jackfruit gives off a lot of ethylene gas, which can smell like gasoline. Even in the fridge it will keep ripening so if you keep it in a cupboard or the fridge for a while, you’ll notice that pungent smell.

How do you know when a jackfruit is ripe?

When the fruit turns golden brown and becomes somewhat softer to the touch, it is most likely ripe. Jackfruits are soft inside, which is why they ripen so visibly on the outside. You can also tell by the smell – ripe jackfruit smells sweet, while unripe jackfruit has more of a green vegetable smell.

How to cook jackfruit

Jackfruit is a great meat alternative and can be used in any dish where you would normally use pork or beef. It’s also good in curries, stir-fries, and soups. Just remember that unripe jackfruit is more like meat, while ripe jackfruit is more like a fruit.

How long should you cook jackfruit?

You should cook jackfruit for 45 minutes. After that, you can drain it and rinse it with cool water. If you want to, you can cook it for longer, but it’s not necessary.

How long does jackfruit take to fry?

You should fry jackfruit for 10 minutes, or until it’s tender. Breaking it up with a spoon will help it cook evenly.

How do you know if jackfruit is cooked?

The jackfruit is cooked when the inner flesh is soft and a bit stringy, similar to chicken.

How to eat jackfruit

Can you eat raw jackfruit?

Yes, you can eat ripe jackfruit raw. It’s often eaten as a snack or used in fruit salads. Unripe jackfruit can also be eaten raw, but it has a more neutral flavor that is better suited for savory dishes.

Can I eat the stringy part of jackfruit?

Yes, the stringy part is edible and is actually one of the tastiest parts of the jackfruit.

You can also eat jackfruit seeds. They are a good source of protein and are often used in curries and soups.

What’s the difference between jackfruit and durian?

The main difference between jackfruit and durian is that jackfruit is much less smelly than durian. Durian has a very strong, unpleasant smell that can linger for days. Jackfruit also has a more neutral flavor than durian, which is quite pungent and tastes like old cheese.

What’s the difference between jackfruit and breadfruit?

The main difference between jackfruit and breadfruit is that jackfruit grows on the stems near to the tree trunk and breadfruit grows on the branches. Breadfruit is also a lot sweeter than jackfruit. Breadfruit are large, but the largest tree-produced fruits are the jackfruit.

Is jackfruit healthy?

Yes, jackfruit is a very healthy fruit. It’s high in fiber and vitamins C and B6. Jackfruit is also a good source of potassium. Jackfruit seeds are a good source of protein.

Conclusion

Jackfruit is a great meat substitute and that’s no wonder given its texture and ability to absorb the flavor of any dish.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.