Jackfruit is one of the largest fruits that grows on trees, and it has been popular in Southeast Asia for many centuries. The trees can grow to 80 feet tall, and each fruit can grow up to 100 pounds.
It is becoming more and more popular in the United States, where many people are using it as a substitute for meat.
When you cook with jackfruit, it soaks flavors and has a texture similar to shredded chicken or pulled pork, and it works well for vegetarians who want to enjoy some of these delicious recipes without eating meat.
The most important thing is to make sure that your jackfruit is ripe and ready to eat.
How to Examine Jackfruit
The first thing to look at is the color of the jackfruit. If it is green, it is not ripe. It should be a yellowish color. You should squeeze it lightly, and the fruit should give way to the pressure. It should not collapse with a gentle squeeze, but it should have some give.
The next test is to smell the jackfruit. It has a unique musky odor that is quite powerful. If you can smell it, then you know that the fruit inside is sweet and juicy.
If your jackfruit is yellowish in color, reacts to a gentle squeeze, and has a distinct musky odor, you can have confidence that it is ripe and ready for use.
How to Prepare Jackfruit
Before you cut into your jackfruit, you need to oil your hands and the knife you plan to use. Jackfruit is known to be very sticky, and it is difficult to manage if you do not first use oil.
When you cut it open, there are large pale pods that have seeds in them. The seeds are connected to the core of the fruit. It can be eaten fresh on its own, or it can be added to many different dishes, such as ice cream.
What to Do with Unripe Jackfruit
Unripe jackfruit is green, and its texture is similar to shredded chicken. It can be used as an alternative for meat in different dishes, including barbeque and curry. It is also eaten cooked with noodles or used in salads.
You should cover your work space with newspapers because it can make a mess. Slice the jackfruit into two halves, and continue slicing it until you are left with large pieces of the fruit. You can leave the green skin on it.
Once you finish slicing it up, place the pieces of fruit into boiling water, and boil it for about 45 minutes. The flesh will become soft and stringy, similar to shredded chicken. You can also use a pressure cooker, and it will only take about 10 minutes to cook.
Once you have cooked the jackfruit, you can peel the skin. Then, dig out the extra seeds and the stringy flesh. You can throw the seeds away, but they can be eaten if they are cooked. People often roast them after the fruit is cooked and then add them to a salad.
You can also grind them into a powder and add them to a smoothie, use them as flour, or eat them as a snack.
How Does Jackfruit Taste?
How jackfruit tastes will depend on whether it is ripe or unripe. Ripe jackfruit tastes similar to other tropical fruits such as mango or pineapple. When it is unripe, it has a more neutral flavor and soaks up the flavors of the other foods that you cook it with.
If you cook it with a broth, it will absorb the broth and take on that flavor. For this reason it is similar to chicken for cooking purposes, and it works well as a vegetarian substitute.
How to Store Jackfruit
As with most fruits, jackfruit will ripen as it sits on the counter. If you want it to ripen, then you can leave it out on the counter until it is yellow.
However, if you plan to use it unripe, you should put it in the freezer right away. Once you have cut it open, you can also freeze it, and it will keep for about a month.
In addition to buying the fruits whole, you can buy it canned, frozen, or dried. When companies can it, they either put it in a sweet syrupy liquid, which is great if you want sweet jackfruit, or brine, which works well if you want to use it for curry or another meaty dish.
It should be labeled as green, tender, or young when it is intended for use as a meat substitute.
You can buy jackfruit in many different sizes. They can be small two pound fruits or large ones that range from 40 to 80 pounds. Most people use a smaller size fruit as the larger ones are heavy and difficult to store.