Let's Learn About International Fruits


Part 1 of 2: Jackfruit

My interest in jackfruit stems from recently seeing it at the grocery store and wondering "what is that?" As I stood there looking at it, a very young man around ten or so, looked at me and asked if I knew what it was. Due to being a registered dietitian, I was a little embarrassed to answer “no, but I think I might.” The young man immediately informed me that it was jackfruit and told me he had read about it but never tried it because his mom never knew what to do with it.

My son-in-law is a produce manager for a large grocery store chain, so I immediately turned to my inside source and asked him about jackfruit and how to use it. He informed me that he gets many inquiries about both jackfruit and lychee at this time of year because they are in season. Customers are either specifically seeking these international fruits out, because they regularly consume them, or are found standing in the produce area aimlessly staring at them with quizzical and intimidated faces. My son-in-law had the brilliant idea of featuring these international fruits in my blog, so that people could learn how great they are and how to enjoy them at home. This week's blog will focus on jackfruit and, next week's on lychee.

 

Whole Jackfruit

Whole Jackfruit

Jackfruit is the world's largest fruit that grows on trees, from the mulberry family, in South Asia. Depending on how ripe jackfruit is, you will see it used in both sweet and savory recipes. It has been compared to tasting like artichokes or green bananas when it is slightly ripe and sweet like pineapple as it continues to ripen. It was surprising to see jackfruit used as a substitute for pulled pork in some recipes, which appeared to be an exciting option in the vegan and vegetarian online communities.


Jackfruit Nutrition Facts


Because of its many health benefits, the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR.org) recently featured jackfruit in their campaign called "Weird Cancer-Fighting Foods to Try This Summer." 

One cup of raw jackfruit provides many nutrients including, but not limited to:

  • 157 Calories
  • 2.8 grams Protein
  • 2.5 grams of Fiber
  • 1.1 grams Fat
  • 38.4 grams Carbohydrate
  • 739.2 milligrams Potassium
  • 22.6 milligrams Vitamin C
  • 0.543 milligrams Vitamin B6

Source: NutritionValue.org   


How to Choose, Process, Store, & Prepare Jackfruit


Choosing:

  1. Caution! Jackfruit can weigh 100 lbs and more!  My son-in-law explained that the average size of the jackfruit in his stores run around 35-40 lbs. Because they are quite large, many families purchase a whole jackfruit to share. Typically, you can find jackfruit already cut up at the store. If it is not precut, customers will ask the produce staff to cut it up in order for them to purchase a smaller amount. 
  2. Sources report that as jackfruit ripens, it's color will change from the original light green to a yellowish brown and may have a sweet smell or have a musty odor that smells similar to decayed onions. Hmmm, this does not sound promising! However, upon opening the ripened fruit, it is compared to smelling like pineapple and banana, which sounds much more inviting.
  3. If you are buying a full jackfruit, tap it to listen for a dull, hollow sound to indicate that it is ripe. 

Processing:

  1. When Jackfruit is cut or broken open, it has a gummy, latex like fluid that makes it hard and messy to work with. It is recommended that, prior to cutting, you rub your hands and utensils with a cooking oil that will not interfere with the taste.
  2. All of the video and written sources I viewed could not say enough about how great jackfruit tastes and that it is well worth the extra work to process it.  As you can imagine, if you buy it precut, frozen, or canned at the grocery store you will avoid the messy part! 
  3. Below is a link to a great YouTube about cutting jackfruit and what it looks like inside.

Storing:

  1. Jackfruit can be refrigerated for up to seven days and frozen for up to two months. 

Preparing:

  1. Jackfruit is prepared in many ways depending on how ripe it is and the recipe being used.
  2. It is often boiled, fried, roasted, steamed, eaten as fresh fruit, dried in slices, frozen, used in crockpots, and canned. 
  3. Please see the link below for meal recipes that use jackfruit to create meatless meals that sound delicious.
  4. Please see the link below for jackfruit dessert recipes that you might like to try. 

If you have not signed up to receive the blog, drop by again next week when we learn about lychee. If there are any topics you would like to suggest, please add them in the comments section for consideration. Thank you and have a great day. 

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