Holy cannoli I FINALLY got a jackfruit! Now, you're probably wondering why in the world I am this excited about a fruit, and for that matter who in the world gets that excited about a fruit? I get it, but folks, this is not just another kind of apple or berry I'm talking about- this is a JACKFRUIT. Time to let you in on a little secret- I watch Food Network (insert sarcasm, please). A lot. More than a lot. Probably the bulk of my television time is spent on Food Network programming, but that's ok, right? At any rate, I've seen this fruit on numerous cooking shows, usually in competition shows on which the idea is to stump the contestants because who in the world really knows what the heck to do with a jackfruit? Well, we are going to find out.
A couple months ago The Chef and I were browsing the local mid-size supermarket looking for inspiration. We were feeling a bit in a food rut. Whenever that happens we like to meander around the store and looks at food items we have not yet cooked with or haven't for a long time, or something from our childhood- like La Choy chow mein in a can. Don't laugh- a lot of people in our generation have fond memories of our mothers making this for dinner with those brown crunchy noodles and Minute Rice. We usually start in the produce section because it's right by the front doors of this particular store. On this occasion there was a large display of tropical fruits- rambutans, carambola, cherimoya, and things like that. Different kinds of papayas and mangoes. Baby red bananas. Lots of fun things including......... this monstrously gigantic kinda prickly and HUGELY heavy jackfruit. I immediately wanted to take it home with me but with a $40 pricetag that wasn't going to happen today so I sulked around the store the rest of the time and bemoaned my poor luck- having finally found a jackfruit but a limited budget.
Fast forward to now and I pop into Whole Foods, more for snooping around than for shopping, as we don't normally go there unless I'm looking for an unusual grain or type of rice, and lo and behold, right there, in the produce section (again the first department I wandered through) was once again the object of my intense obsession- the jackfruit, but this time it was not a $40 million pound globe of fruit to feed 50, it was cut up and sold by the slice. Jackpot! Now that my wish has been fulfilled my grandson Nathan and I are going to play with this fun fruit and learn a little about it at the same time.
|Jackfruit, top, and durian, bottom. Photo from Wiki.|
The skin of the jackfruit is pretty thick and tough, but I was able to cut through it with no difficulty at all. The core was very pronounced and easy to remove. The fruit itself looks like little pods and each one contains a seed. Nathan and I learned that the jackfruit is actually just a giant flower with the petals on the inside and the fruit bulbs are flower petals- kind of cool to think about. There is a big seed in each bulb, about as big as an olive. We also learned that the seeds are also edible. The seeds smell like chocolate and if you dry them you can grind them as use them like cocoa. You can also boil the seeds or roast them, and they taste like water chestnuts.
The funky stuff around the bulbs is also edible. We learned that it can also be cooked and shredded to use like meat- like in a pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwich, and that many vegan and vegetarian people do use the jackfruit as a meat replacement. Just imagine, a tree that can maybe eliminate starvation. We read that each jackfruit tree, which is the largest of all fruit-bearing trees, is capable of producing 100 to 200 fruits per year, and that each fruit can weigh up to 80 pounds. That is a lot of food!
|Looks like chicken!|
|Our bulbs and our seeds.|
Our fruit bulbs went into a zip top bag and in the freezer so the next day we could make smoothies with them. It was very sweet and definitely had the mango and banana flavors. The next time we try jackfruit we will probably get a couple slices or maybe canned jackfruit and try THIS RECIPE for BBQ Pulled Jackfruit from the More Vegan Blog. A little bit of research online and we found all kinds of different dishes to use it in, both sweet and savory. We had fun and learned a lot about this weird fruit you don't see in Iowa very often. I wonder what weird food we will find next?
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