Question: What is Jackfruit?
While jackfruit is a common sight throughout Asia, here in the West, jackfruit is still largely unknown. It is, however, available in many Asian markets and specialty stores. Read on to find out more about this mysterious fruit, including how to cook with it...
Enormous and prickly on the outside, jackfruit looks somewhat like durian (though jackfruit is usually even larger). Once a jackfruit is cracked open, what you will find inside are pods or "bulbs". Often referred to as the seeds, these bulbs are actually a kind of fleshy covering for the true seeds or pits, which are round and dark like chesnuts. The fleshy part (the "bulb") can be eaten as is, or cut up and cooked. When unripe (green), it is remarkably similar in texture to chicken, making jackfruit an excellent vegetarian substitute for meat. In fact, canned jackfruit (in brine) is sometimes referred to as "vegetable meat".
Jackfruit can also be purchased frozen, dried, or canned either in brine (usually unripe) or in syrup (ripe and sweet). If using fresh jackfruit, it's a good idea to oil your knife and hands first before cutting, as the fruit is very sticky.
Jackfruit seeds (nuts) can be roasted like chestnuts, or boiled. If left to cook inside the flesh (for example, in curries or other cooked dishes), the nut softens and can easily be eaten.
Jackfruit contains many vitamins and minerals, and offers numerous health benefits. The fruit's isoflavones, antioxidants, and phytonutrients mean that jackfruit has cancer-fighting properties. It is also known to help cure ulcers and indigestion. For more on the health benefits of jackfruit, or to make my Thai Jackfruit Curry Recipe (Vegetarian), see links below.