What is Jackfruit?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 13 May 2016
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A jackfruit is a huge, spined, oval fruit that is believed to have been first cultivated in Indian rainforests. It's mostly grown in tropical climates, and is the largest fruit in the world, weighing up to 80 pounds (about 36 kg) with a length of up to 3 feet (0.91 m). Though it has a notoriously bad smell when ripening, the flesh and the seeds of the fruit are edible. Since it's an acquired taste, the fruit isn't much of a cash crop, but some people do like to serve it in desserts and curries. It's also the national fruit of Bangladesh.

Most jackfruit is grown in tropical or close to tropical climates, and it is still found in many parts of India, as well as in most of Southeast Asia. In the Americas, the fruits are largely grown in Brazil. A few trees have thrived in Florida and San Diego, but the northern parts of the US and all of Canada are generally too cold. In the proper climate, the trees can grow roughly 60 feet (about 18 m) tall.


The exterior of the fruit is not edible, but the flesh and seeds are commonly eaten. When outside has turned from green to yellow, it is ready to be picked. Jackfruit tends to be an acquired taste and frequently does not appeal to those unfamiliar with it. The ripening fruits have an odor that has been compared to the smell of rotting onions. This often discourages people from trying the interior.

Each fruit contains numerous sweet, banana-like bulbs that many people find delicious. One variety has a crunchy, rather than mushy, texture and is generally preferred. The seeds can be roasted and are compared to chestnuts in flavor. Cutting and preparing the flesh is tricky, because the fruit is very sticky and can actually be used as glue. Most people oil their hands to prevent some of the stickiness from transferring, but washing up afterwards is still a chore.

Jackfruit's popularity varies in different countries, but in most places, the fruit is either cooked with rice or eaten raw. Many people don't wait for the fruit to ripen but prepare it when it is still relatively small, unripe, and crunchy. In India, it's eaten raw or used in curries, soups, and stews. It is also used in various deserts and is a common ingredient in fruit salads. The fruit is not particularly popular in India, and is very cheap there, so it's not easy to make a profit growing it.

In the United States, the fruit may be found in Middle Eastern and Asian markets. It is almost always imported from either Brazil or Australia, where it grows well. Modern recipes from Australia suggest serving gravy made from it over lamb or pickling the small unripe fruits. It can also be used to make patties, casserole, salad, and fruit compote.


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Discuss this Article

Post 13

Sounds like this fruit is alive! It's creating a tacky substance to protect itself and that's why so many people have bad reactions when eating it. Scary.

Post 11

Olive oil can remove the sticky juice from jackfruit.

Post 9

I've just had two pieces and my tongue feels tingly. If that's the only bad reaction I get it's worth it!

Post 8

I have the exact same reaction like anon34080. Throat got very dry and I had difficulties swallowing. Almost feels like I'm going to suffocate if this stickiness in the throat does not fade. Will also never eat it again.

Post 7

rub your hands with peanut butter for about a minute to get the stickiness off.

Post 6

Yum! Dried jackfruit is the best. I buy it in big bins in the Asian farmer's market. I saw one in the market and was tempted to "do it myself" but chickened out. Now, that I read these posts I am glad I did. Better to buy prepared!

Post 5

in reference to "how do you clean up after..." use vegetable oil to coat your hands and knife blade prior to cutting fruit/removing fruit with your hands. the sticky stuff is the center part- sometimes this part will exude sap (very sticky).

Post 4

I love jackfruit and I ate them all the time since I was a young girl. My parents planted lots of theme in our farm and we love it! You can cook them raw with coconut milk, meat, fish and eat them with rice. Ripe jackfruit is best when you eat them just that, fresh! The seeds, you boiled it or roasted.

Post 3

How do you clean up after using Jack fruit? After removing the fleshy fruit from the rest of the pods my hands are coated with this tacky substance.

Post 2

I ate the flesh from a jackfruit tonight. I did not have a good reaction. My throat started to feel weird, felt prickly at the back of my throat when I swallowed. This feeling lasted at least 15-20 minutes. Felt like the back of my tongue got a little swollen. Seems to be wearing off now. I will never eat this again!!

Post 1

The jackfruit is also used to make a syrup, and the seeds are usually not eaten raw but only after being boiled or roasted.

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