I live in the Pacific Northwest, very near to Seattle. Jackfruit is NOT common to the area. In fact, I had never heard of, much less tasted, a jackfruit. Here’s how it happened that I did. A lady I work with is from the Phillipines and has travelled throughout Asia and other places. She knows my love of food and has made me homemade Lumpia (a Phillipine version of eggroll) and shumai. She is always asking me if I’ve tried this or that. The other day she asked if I had tried jackfruit. No, not me, never heard of it. Well off we went to a local, small Asian market owned by a friend of hers who had just gotten some jackfruit flown in from somewhere. After they chatted back and forth and I was shown various large, prickly looking fruit, I dazedly walked out with a huge, over 20 pound fruit! My British friend said it looked like a hedgehog and that description fits! This is what they look like…
Well, now what? I had no idea what I was getting into. Luckily she told me that I should put vegetable oil on my hands when I cut it open because it was sticky. What an understatement! I’m so glad I actually followed instructions this time because there is a sticky sap inside. You could use it as glue I’m sure. Anyway, it’s quite a procedure. The skin is actually not tough and the knife goes through just fine, but there is a woody center that takes some getting through. Then the actual fruits are like little flower buds with a large seed inside and the buds are surrounded with white pithy stuff that is inedible. So you cut through all this and pull out the sections of fruit. I would say this one had around 50 fruit buds in it? Maybe more. I don’t know if I got a good picture of the fruit buds so I’m going to use an online picture, sorry. It’s just such an unusual fruit! You have to see it! I’m submitting this to the Things My Belly Likes blog to her Creative Kitchen Challenge. She has challenged everyone to be courageous and cook with some ingredient you’ve never used before, something you might be afraid of trying!
Here’s a picture I found online from a Thai website, that shows what the fruits look like once you’ve gone through hours and hours getting them out! (Not really but it sounds so dramatic).
So what does it taste like you might ask? Such a strange combination of flavors….I could taste pineapple, mango, cantalope and possibly a touch of banana. Everyone who tried it mentioned a different fruit. Someone even said papaya. Now the texture is a bit rubbery and some people couldn’t get past it. To me the texture was similar to a lychee which is one of my favorite fruits so I didn’t have a problem. What I did think would be a problem was how much fruit I had! Remember this was an over 20 pound fruit and even after I discarded all the inedible stuff there was a lot of fruit left. I decided to make jam. BUT….I underestimated one thing…. Jason, as it turned out, loved jackfruit! He had never had it before and he’s not a big fruit eater so I was expecting it to sit in the fridge and possibly go bad before I made jam. By the time the jam making day came…I wasn’t sure there was enough jackfruit! So I figured guava would go well and it has a lot of pectin so I thought that would work out.
I used about 8 or 9 jackfruit buds and 2 ripe guavas and a bit of lemon juice plus some sugar, not too much maybe a cup, because jackfruit is sweet. I should have considered that the jackfruit would also have alot of pectin because of the sticky sap. It must have because I got a very firm jam. The taste? Out of this world. I think the guava and jackfruit go really well together. Now if you don’t want to go through the hassle of fresh jackfruit, or can’t find it locally, there is canned jackfruit at Asian markets that I’m sure would work well in a jam….or just right out of the can.