What is Jackfruit and How to Use?

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Learn about the popular Southeast Asian fruit, jackfruit, including facts, how to use jackfruit, and links to jackfruit recipes.

If you’re not familiar with Southeast Asia or its cultures, there’s a chance you may not be well acquainted with jackfruit. A relative of breadfruit and a distant cousin of the fig, jackfruit (Latin name Artocarpus heterophyllus) is very popular in India, Thailand, the Philippines and other areas of Southeast Asia but is not so common in North American markets.

What is Jackfruit and Where is it From?

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Jackfruit hanging on tree. Image by today.com

Jackfruit is a large, oblong-shaped fruit somewhat similar to a durian but with a bumpy, scaly-looking greenish yellow skin. Inside, a series of yellow-fleshed pods surround its seeds. It’s these pods, or bulbs, that comprise the edible area of the fruit. Like durian, the exterior of the fruit can be stinky but the interior smells pleasantly fruity, loosely comparable to a banana. The fruit regularly grows to humongous sizes, up to 80 pounds in weight.

The fruit is believed to have emerged in the Western Ghats of India, a hotbed of biodiversity stretching along the entire Indian west coast. From there, its range quickly expanded and today it is indigenous to India, much of Southeast Asia, the Philippines and the East Indies. In addition, jackfruit is cultivated in parts of Africa and South America, in warm humid climates where the tree thrives.

How to Use Jackfruit

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Jackfruit is often used cooked into pakoras. Image by eggiejam.com

There are many ways to prepare and serve jackfruit. Green and unripe, the fruit’s flavor is often compared to chicken and is used widely as a substitute for meat in vegetarian and vegan recipes. Jackfruit is often used in curries, cooked into pakoras, and even turned into faux pulled pork. It can also be found fried into crispy chips as a snack. Jackfruit is equally popular as a dessert, and can be found made into puddings, cakes and milkshakes.

Jackfruit Recipes

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BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches. Image by hy-vee.com

Online, there are many excellent Jackfruit recipes to choose from. Here are a few links to get you started cooking jackfruit:

  • Green Jackfruit Recipes – The Green Jackfruit.
  • BBQ Baby Jackfruit – Group Recipes.
  • Raw Jackfruit Curry – Indobase.
  • Tapioca Pearl, Taro, and Jackfruit Dessert – Thai & Lao Food.
  • Jackfruit Milkshake – Ptit Chef.
  • Various Jackfruit Recipes – Virtual Herbarium.

Enjoy Jackfruit, an Exotic Fruit

When selecting a fresh jackfruit, you can tell if it’s ripe by the smell (a ripe jackfruit will have a distinct scent) and its feel (slightly soft but not to the point of squishiness). If you can’t find fresh jackfruit, it’s usually also available frozen, canned and dried; in North America, look for it at large grocery shops, specialty grocers and Asian import stores.

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