This fruit can be so massive it sometimes needs two people to carry a single fruit.
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is one of those fruits that you will not forget the first time you’ll encounter them. The first time that you’ll see one whole fruit you may likely be awed by its huge size. Some varieties can be so big and heavy reaching up to 50 kilograms (110 lbs) and measure up to 90 cm (36 in) long and 50 cm (20 in) wide, making the jackfruit as the largest and heaviest tree-borne fruit. Due to its size and weight, it sometimes needs two people to carry just one fruit.
The jackfruit has a green rind with closely-spaced short spikes that either remains green or turns yellow-brown when fully ripe. When it starts to ripen in the tree, it will start to emit a strong pungent smell, the fruit’s way of saying that you should start looking for it in the tree because it will be ready for consumption in a few days. If the fruit is very big and heavy, it may need to be taken down even before it is fully ripe so that it will not fall to the ground and break due to its heavy weight.
You will know that the fruit is fully ripe and ready to eat when it yields to moderate pressure and produces a dull, hollow sound when tapped.
The fruit is usually opened using a sharp knife that should first be wiped with oil because the rind and core contains sticky, white latex.
Inside the fruit are white non-edible “rags” that surround large, yellow sheaths that enclose smooth, oval, light-brown seeds. A single fruit may produce 100 to 500 seeds depending on variety and size.
The jackfruit is native to parts of India and Southeast Asia. It is also popular in Brazil and parts of Africa. People in these countries find the smell of the unopened jackfruit as pleasant, while most people who are new to the fruit find the odor disgusting, like the smell of rotting onions.
Once the fruit is opened, almost everyone seems to agree that the strong, penetrating smell is sweet, like a combination of pineapple and bananas. Depending on variety, the sheaths can be soft, fibrous, mushy and very sweet or almost crunchy but not quite sweet. The fruit tastes delicious and also described as a cross between pineapple and banana, a flavor that does not appeal to people who are unfamiliar with the fruit.
The seeds can be boiled or roasted and taste like chestnuts, and the sheaths can be made into candies and jams. The young unripe fruits are also cooked and eaten in Southeast Asia.
Jackfruit is called by various names around the world. It is called khanun in Thailand; mit in Vietnam and nangka in Malaysia and the Philippines.
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