I’ve enjoyed savory jackfruit in tacos and stirfry, and I was curious about sweet, ripe jackfruit. I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube showing how big these fruits can grow and I’ve been intrigued. I’m always the person preaching fresh is better, and why eat from a can when you can buy fresh at the market…until now.
Buying Fresh Jackfruit
Jackfruits, according to various sources, can grow up to 50-80 lbs. When they are young, they are not ripe. These jackfruits are canned and sold as amazing vegan “meat” chameleons – they take on the flavor of the seasoning you use, so you can have “pulled pork” or “shredded chicken” with a range of global flavor profiles. My favorite canned organic jackfruit is linked at the bottom of the page.
Fresh jackfruit grows in Southeast Asia and some other similarly warm climates, and I found it for sale in a farmers market in Seattle. Many Asian markets also may have it, and price will vary based on vendor and location. Just imagine shipping costs on some of these heavier fruits!
I found a jackfruit about 14 inches long, and already chopped in half. From the YouTube videos I’ve seen, this is best done with a machete. I don’t have one, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to open a jackfruit while retaining all ten fingers, so buying a pre-halved one worked well.
The outside is bumpy and hard. The fresher the fruit, the greener the skin. As you can see, mine must have been off the tree for a few days as it’s turning darker.
The inside is a bright pineapple-yellow, with a hard core in the center and interesting architecture of fruit pods with seeds in between inedible portions.
Remove the Core
Some of the online videos had people oiling up their hands and their knife. Again, this seemed like the quickest way to losing a finger, so I naively opted for no oil. This oil would have come in handy later, when it was time to clean up.
The first step, since my jackfruit was already cut in half, was to remove the core. Using my chef knife, I cut at an angle in a big U shape around the hard inedible center, and with some pulling and re-situating of the knife, I was able to remove it. In this pic, you can also see a few empty seed pods – they must have fallen out when this sucker was machete’d open.
Beneath the core was more edible fruit pods with seeds, and some of the stickiest sap I’ve encountered. THIS is why everyone recommended oiling the knife. This sap was serious. I got it on my camera, counter tops, and it was quite difficult to remove from the knife.
Harvesting the Edible Parts
For a fruit that weighed probably 5 lbs to start, it certainly had a lot of parts we couldn’t eat! I’d root around and pull out the bright yellow pods, leaving plenty of other material around it. Inside, there would be a seed – like a chestnut – and after removing that, I also had to scoop out a thin film that had been around the seed at some point. What remained was the actual edible part.
That sap was serious. Sometimes, like black ice, I wouldn’t even see it, then my fingers would glue together. Other times, there were big melted marshmallowy gobs of sap waiting to make everything it touched super sticky. Here’s another pic of the sap…
After rooting around this comparatively small jackfruit for nearly 90 minutes, I was almost done pulling out all the sweet fruit! What was left, was a shaggy, fibrous, yellow shell. This is turned inside out, so the bumpy green side is now concave on the underside.
I don’t know if I was doing this all wrong, but I feel like I touched every square inch of fruit. Not just the rind or skin, but every surface of the edible portions. Because of this, I was a little grossed out about the thought of eating jackfruit anywhere else. I don’t need my food to be that intimately handled prior to consumption.
As for the texture, it’s less juicy than pineapple, and has a denser texture like something between a bell pepper and a banana. Little known fact – Juicyfruit gum is flavored like jackfruit, and one bite into the fruit, you’ll recognize it. My husband thought eating the jackfruit was like starting a fresh piece of gum, then swallowing it whole. The fruit lasts for quite a while. We might have nibbled on it for over a week, and it was just in a bowl covered with plastic in the fridge.
I diced up the jackfruit, and mixed it with coconut milk yogurt, and added it to some mixed berries over waffles. Sure, this might be the easy route, but it’s all I had left in me after this project.
The other usable part of the fruit, that I didn’t even attempt, would be roasting the seeds like chestnuts. I had already spent far more time cutting the fruit, then cleaning the knife, so I didn’t make any effort to use the seeds.
- I’m glad I went on this little adventure
- I enjoy the taste of sweet, ripe jackfruit
- I will never do this ever again
- I will stick to savory young jackfruit from a can (see favorite below)