The Jackfruit: An Exotic Fruit

The jackfruit is yet another very interesting exotic fruit, and like others, it’s also native to South and Southeast Asia.  In fact, the jackfruit is so popular in some parts of Asia that it is actually the national fruit of Bangladesh!

The jackfruit has an interesting history of cultivation.  It is believed by scientists to have first originated in the southwestern region of India, growing in dense and humid rainforests.  Jackfruits have long been part of Indian culture and agriculture; scientists have found that the jackfruit was grown in India as early as 6000 years ago!  Now, the jackfruit is grown all over Asia and other tropical areas, including India, Thailand, Indonesia, East Africa, and even Brazil!

Fun fact:  did you know that the jackfruit is actually the largest fruit that grows on trees?  Jackfruits can grow to over 80 pounds, or 36 kilograms.

No more history and facts – let’s go on to the delicious taste of the jackfruit, as well as the great health benefits the jackfruit provides.  The jackfruit tastes pretty similar to a tart banana, but the texture of its flesh varies depending on what variety you are eating.  Usually, the jackfruit has starchy and fibrous flesh, which is an amazing source of dietary fiber.

Interestingly enough, the jackfruit can be eaten both when it’s young and unripe and when it is ripe.  However, when eaten young and unripe, it must be cooked.

Jackfruit is used very often in Asian cuisine, whether Indian or Southeast Asian.  The seeds of jackfruit can be boiled or baked, similar to how we eat beans.  In fact, you could say that no part of the jackfruit goes unused:  the leaves of the jackfruit plant can be used to wrap steamed idlis.

Jackfruit is used in a wide variety of dishes, both hot and cold.  It can be served together with cooked coconut milk in the Philippines when eaten young and unripe.  When ripe, the jackfruit is deliciously sweet and is used in Asia to make custards, cakes, and sometimes even fried to make jackfruit chips.

Jackfruit provides numerous health benefits, and not only basic vitamins and minerals.  For one, the fibrous flesh provides an excellent source of dietary fiber, which many people do not get enough of daily.  In addition to a plethora of essential vitamins and minerals, jackfruit may also improve bodily systems and prevent diseases, including heart disease.

Further reading

  1. The Exotic Jackfruit Growing the World’s Largest Fruit
  2. The Great Exotic Fruit Book: A Handbook with Recipes 

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