by Erin Thursby
A favorite fruit in the Philippines, Southern Asia and warm island countries, it has a distinctive flavor, just a bit like pineapple but less tart and juicy. There’s an urban legend out there that the basis for the flavor of the original Juicy Fruit gum was the jackfruit.
On the outside, jackfruit is large, nubby, a bit prickly and green. Inside the flesh is a yellow-orange color, surrounding large seeds. This fruit can reach up to 100 pounds, but you won’t find one that large in a market. Still the fruit is huge, and if you get one be prepared to store it in your fridge. When fresh, it’s a little smelly on the outside (like onions) but once it’s cracked open you’ll be rewarded by a kind of Juicy Fruit smell.
Fresh jackfruit can be found in Asian markets, but it’s also available canned or as dried fruit. Because the fruit is unwieldy, the rind is tough to get though and the sticky juice coats everything it comes in contact with, I’ve stuck with buying the canned stuff. Some people even oil their hands and the knife when they cut into it.
Every part of the jackfruit tree has its uses. The wood is prized for musical instruments and can be found as part of house construction in some parts of the world. The seeds, when cooked or ground, can be edible and the leaves are sometimes found in recipes as well. Unripe, it’s cooked as a vegetable. Ripe, it’s eaten as a fruit.
Jackfruit has a number of uses, and is often found in curries, chutneys and dessert custards. A couple of friends whose parents are from the Philippines make a sweet, deep-fried confection with it. It’s called turon. Basically it’s a thin half-finger of plantain and a thin half-finger of jackfruit rolled in a half cinnamon half sugar mix. Take both and wrap it in a spring roll wrapper and deep fry in vegetable oil.
While you can try to grow jackfruit here in Jacksonville, it is frost sensitive and would do better in Southern Florida.
by Erin Thursby