Through a little twist of fate, I wound up the proud owner of a large, fresh jackfruit today. It was just going to be tossed, if I didn’t accept the offer, so I took it. I had visions in my head of making a jackfruit mead or a jackfruit cider. I also am considering canning it in syrup…could be an NC State Fair prize winner! But I have no idea how to use it. I’m ruling out mead, because I would need six pounds of honey and I’m not willing to invest $36+ on a project that may not work out. Other options are open and more research is going to take place shortly.
The reason for this post is to let people know, who may be intrigued by this large fruit, normally found in Asian grocery stores (in my area), what you are about to get into if you make that leap.
First, it is big. My kitchen scale goes up to eleven pounds and this exceeded that. Second, it is hard. I used a 10 inch chef’s knife and did okay cutting it in half and then each half into quarters. Imagine cutting through a very large butternut squash.
When you open it, you will see orange pods held in place by stringy internal fibers, and a core. I cut the core away, like I would from a quartered pineapple. Some of the pods had their single seeds exposed and a few cut through. So, the trick now is to separate the pods from the rind and the fibrous stuff. I decided to cut between the rind and the pods like I cut cantaloupe away from the rind. Then I would pull up a pod, remove the sticky, clingy strands from it. Next, cut a piece from the top and bottom, releasing the seed from its attachment to the pod. The seed, which looks like a large garlic clove is slippery and will pop out of its sheath, which should be removed and discarded.
It is at this point that you realize that your hands and knives are becoming more and more sticky and it isn’t rinsing off…not even with soap. The sap is coming from the core and stringy fibers and it feels very much like what I would imagine the sap from an actual rubber tree would feel. So, at this point, I decided just to get it done. *(Update: I later learned through my research that cooking oil keeps what others refer to as the “latex” from sticking. Coat your hands, work surfaces, and knife blades with it prior to beginning. Personally, handling oily knives with oily hands sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, in my opinion. Perhaps I would try it for clean-up.)
This took some time…I wasn’t watching a clock, but it was over an hour, I’m sure. Once I had everything separated, most of the peels, cores, etc. went to the composter. I kept the seeds, pending research. Some seed covers and a fair amount of string/sticky fiber went into the disposer. I would not recommend this…looked like sinks were backing up, but cleared a few minutes later, after running the disposer and some hot water. I had to clean my hands and knives with a solvent!*(see update above)
With all said and done, I have 4lbs of Jackfruit and about a pound and a half of seeds. As I said, I’m not decided yet on what to do with the fruit and I doubt the seeds are useful, but after all that work, I’m going to figure out something!
As for the flavor and texture, fresh jackfruit is hard to pin down, except for banana. Banana is definitely there, but there’s some other stuff there that I don’t really know how to describe. Floral? Peach/mango/pineapple? But with absolutely no acidity. It’s not juicy or lush; the texture is kind of like biting into a slightly limp slice of yellow squash. It’s hard to say I really like it. I would nibble on some, but I would not eat much. Canned in syrup or as the main ingredient in a cider? I don’t know yet…could be fabulous. But before you buy one, if you read this first, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into! Enjoy!