The Jackfruit – Meet the Giant

 

Do you know the jackfruit?  Have you ever seen it?

When you encounter it for the first time you might wonder if you should stand still or run. Did this thing come from out of space?

I wouldn’t blame you because the jackfruit is a very, very large fruit and a weird looking one at that.

 

See what I mean?

Do you know the saying “Don’t judge a book but its cover”? Well don’t be put off by its look because it is truly an amazing fruit.

 

WHAT IS IT?

It is thought that the  jackfruit originated in India but it can now be found spread over many tropical countries.

It is one incredibly unique fruit and one jackfruit can provide lots of food for lots of people.

Are you trying to imagine how one fruit can provide lots of food for lots of people? After all most of the fruits we know provide food for only one person.

Well you will understand that, when you realize that one jackfruit can weigh up to 100 pounds.

In case you think there is an extra zero in error let’s put it another way – one jackfruit can weigh up to one hundred pounds. Not exactly the best tree to rest under for shade especially on a windy day.

They are not all 100 pounds however.  You can find smaller 20 or 30 pound ones so you won’t always need a truck to take your fruit home. You probably still won’t want to sit under the tree because 20 or 30 pounds falling on your head is not a good experience.

Before the fruit is ripe, the skin has a green colour but on ripening the skin tends to turn a yellowish brownish colour.

The skin is spiny; not enough to cause any discomfort to your hands but looking on it you will probably be perplexed as to how on earth you will be able to eat this thing.

Not to worry though because when you cut that giant open, what’s inside will certain be a delight to your taste-buds.

The ripe fruit has bright yellow pods or buds inside which enclose a fairly large seed. Remove the seeds and pop those delicious buds into your mouth.  Mmm. Deliciously sweet.

There may be as many as 50 to 500 edible bulbs embedded in a single fruit interspersed in-between thin bands of fibers.

If you cut a small piece of jackfruit and think that you are going to eat a few of the pods and leave the rest for later you can forget that thought. Once you start on a piece of jackfruit, you won’t be able to stop until it is all done.  Yes, it’s that delicious.

 


 

One important thing to note is that the center and the rind of the jackfruit is very sticky and you may find your fingers sticking together.

No problem. There are ways to overcome that issue.

  1. Coat your hands and the knife with cooking oil before cutting and handling the jackfruit or
  2. Use gloves when handling the fruit.

To be honest, most persons don’t even care about the stickiness.  They are too busy enjoying the fruit.

 

 

HOW DOES IT GROW

As you can imagine, to be able to hold such gigantic fruits, the jackfruit tree is quite huge and can grow up to heights of 80 feet or more.

The tree grows best in tropical, humid and rainy climates and rarely survives cold and frosty conditions.

The jackfruit tree which incidentally has the biggest tree-borne fruits in the world can produce 100 – 200 fruits per season.

 

 

Let me ask you this. When you look at an apple or an orange tree, the fruits more or less have the same shape, don’t they?

Not so with the jackfruit. Some are rounder, some are longer. The larger fruits can be as wide as 20 inches in diameter and as long as 35 inches. Wow! That’s almost 3 feet long.

This fruit is so unlike others. Even the way it grows is different. The fruit grows directly out of the trunk or large branch of the tree.  How odd is that?

 

 

 

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

This wonder fruit is rich in energy, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Just from one cup of raw fruits you can get the following:

  • 40 grams of carbohydrates – that’s 13% of recommended daily value
  • 3 grams of Dietary fiber – 11% of recommended value
  • 3 grams of protein – although not a very high source of protein. Only 5% Daily value

Vitamins

  • 11.1 mg of Vitamin C – that’s 18% of the recommended daily value.
  • 4901 IU of Vitamin A – 10% daily value

A good source of B vitamins as well.

  • 0.2 mg of riboflavin – 11% daily value
  • 0.2 mg B6 – 10% daily value

Minerals

  • 500 mg potassium –  14% daily value
  • 61.1 mg magnesium – 15% daily value.
  • 0.3 mg manganese – 16 % daily value
  • 0.3 mg copper – 15% daily value

Of course this is only a partial list which  includes some of the major nutrients that you get from jackfruit.  There are many other nutrients that have not been listed.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

With all the nutrients available in the jackfruit it follows that there are several health benefits to eating this fruit.

  • Supports the digestive system – The high fiber content aids in the proper movement of food through the body, prevents constipation and protects the body from other serious conditions such as colon cancer. The fiber also helps to fill you up which is very good for people who are trying to lose weight.
  • Fights infections – Jackfruit contains high levels of Vitamin C which is a powerful, natural, water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance to infectious agents and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
  •  Ensures better cardiovascular health – Jackfruit provides potassium which is needed to ensure a balanced regulation of sodium in our body.  If left unregulated it can cause damage to the arteries and the heart. Potassium also coordinates and maintain muscle function including the muscles of the heart.
  • Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure – The high potassium content also helps to relax blood vessels and maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Strengthens Bones – Jackfruit contains high amounts of magnesium and calcium which helps to strengthens the bones. Symptoms of bone related disorders like arthritis and osteoporosis can be managed by consumption of this fruit.
  • Improves Blood Quality – The copper, magnesium and iron found in jackfruit helps in improving the quality of the blood and prevents disorders such as anemia.
  • Slows down Ageing – The reason behind ageing is free radicals. These are produced in our body during high oxidative stress caused by pollution. Antioxidant rich jackfruit destroys these free radicals which slows down the ageing process.
  • Improves Mood – The high vitamin B content of jackfruit helps to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

 

 

HOW TO EAT JACKFRUIT

The jackfruit can be consumed at various stages of maturity.

RIPE

It is sweetest when it is ripe. At that time you just cut it open, cut out the hard core and it is now ready to be eaten.

Twist out the pods, remove the seed, (the seed is more than likely going to fall out while you are twisting out the pod), pop into your mouth and enjoy.

Store the uneaten portion in the refrigerator as the ripe fruit tends to deteriorate quickly.

A note of caution. Ensure that you place the jackfruit in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator or else every other food in your refrigerator will smell and taste of jackfruit.

 

Other Ways to Eat Ripe Jackfruit

In some countries,  jackfruit slices are mixed with grated coconut, banana slices and honey as a delicious dessert.

The fruit is also used in jam and jelly and is a great addition to fruit salads.

You can also make a delicious punch……….Hey. Its a sweet fruit.  You can experiment as much as you want with it.

 

GREEN

 

The jackfruit can also be eaten while it is young or green. At this time it has a more bland taste and is utilized in many savory dishes. Because of the bland taste of the green fruit, the seasonings are readily absorbed.

Jackfruit is becoming very popular as a vegan meat substitute.

Move over tofu.

There are so many dishes that you can prepare with the green jackfruit.

You can stew it, curry it, barbecue it, fry it……..so many things you can do.

Here is a simple recipe to get you started.

 

CURRY JACKFRUIT

Ingredients

1  20 ounce can jackfruit or 2 cups green jackfruit

3/4 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 onion chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

1 handful of spinach

2 cups coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

 

Directions

Shred jackfruit or chop fine if you prefer

To a large saucepan add the olive oil and heat.

Add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and continue for another minute.

Add the turmeric, ginger powder, coriander, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

Keep stirring to prevent from burning.

Add the tomato and stir for another minute.

Add the shredded jackfruit and continue mixing for about 3 minutes

Add the coconut milk.

Stir, cover saucepan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir until wilted. (about another 3 minutes)

Turn off the stove.

You are done.

 

Serve over rice.

 

 

THERE’S MORE

Don’t throw away the seed.

The jackfruit seed is very rich in digestible starch, protein, and minerals.

Oh yes.  More nutritious food from the jackfruit.

They can be roasted and eaten like nuts.

They can be boiled and eaten or utilized in a variety of recipes. They can even be used to make hummus.

 

BOTTOM LINE

The jackfruit is truly a versatile and nutritious food.  It might not be the most pleasant fruit to look at but the benefits sure make up for that.

Are you ready to challenge the giant?

For those of you who don’t live in the tropics, the good news is that this wonder fruit is still available to you.  You might not be able to get the fresh version but if not, the canned versions are available.

The more popular canned version is the green jackfruit. They are available here.

However, don’t despair. Even though not as popular, canned ripe jackfruit is also available.

 

Have you ever tried jackfruit or do you plan to try it soon?

Tell us about it in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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