Jackfruit (known as ‘kanoon’ in Thailand) is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. The jackfruit plant originated in southwest India, where it grows abundantly. It spread to other parts of India, south east Asia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Thailand is amajor producer of jackfruit, which are often cut, prepared, and canned in a sugary syrup (or frozen in bags or boxes without syrup) and exported overseas, frequently to North America and Europe. The largest tree-borne fruit in the world, jackfruit can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to three feet long. The average size of the fruit is 10 to 25 pounds.
Jackfruit is enormous and prickly on the outside. It looks somewhat like durian, though jackfruit can be even larger. The huge trees produce massive, green, oblong fruits with a bumpy, fleshy exterior. On the inside, jackfruit contains many pale-yellow, plump bulbs, which are edible and joined at the core. The seeds can also be cooked, eaten on their own, or ground into flour. When selecting jackfruit, the fruit is green when unripe, and then turns light brown and has a strong fragrance when ripe.
A ripe, unopened jackfruit has a strong, unpleasant odor but the pulp of the opened fruit smells sweet. When eaten ripe and raw, the taste of jackfruit is sweet and similar to pineapple, mango, and banana. When it’s unripe, the jackfruit has more of a neutral flavor, like a potato, and works well in savory dishes. A great thing about green jackfruit is they don’t have a strong flavor on their own, so they’re able to soak up herbs, spices, and other flavorings.
This allows the fruit to be made into plant-based versions of shredded chicken, pulled pork, or other meat-based meals. Jackfruit can be made into a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. The seeds are often boiled or roasted and eaten as snacks. They are similar to chestnuts or macadamia in taste and flavor.
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