Jack’s Fruit: Artocarpus heterophyllus, sometimes known as jack tree, is a fig, mulberry, and breadfruit tree species (Moraceae).
Its origins are in the area between southern India’s the Western Ghats, Sri Lanka’s entire island, and the rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The jack tree thrives in tropical lowlands and is commonly farmed throughout the world’s tropical regions. It produces the largest fruit of any tree, weighing up to 55 kilogrammes (120 pounds), measuring 90 centimetres (35 inches) in length and 50 centimetres (20 inches) in diameter.
A mature jack tree yields about 200 fruits each year, with older trees producing up to 500. The jackfruit is a multi-fruit made up of hundreds to thousands of separate blossoms, with the fleshy petals of the immature fruit being consumed.
The ripe fruit is delicious (depending on the type) and is usually used in desserts. Green jackfruit in a can has a moderate flavour and a meat-like texture, earning it the moniker “vegetable meat.”  In South and Southeast Asian cuisines, jackfruit is a common ingredient. Both ripe and unripe fruits are consumed.
The jackfruit is Bangladesh’s and Sri Lanka’s national fruit and the state fruit of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu in India. It’s sold canned, frozen, and chilled meals throughout the world, as well as a variety of fruit-based goods, including noodles and chips.
Jack’s Fruit Common names and etymology
The word jackfruit is taken from the Portuguese word jaca, which is derived from the Malayalam word chakka (Malayalam: chakka pazham).
When the Portuguese arrived in India in 1499 at Kozhikode (Calicut) on the Malabar Coast (Kerala), they were the first Europeans to do so. Later, in the Hortus Malabaricus, vol. iii in Latin, Hendrik van Rheede (1678–1703) published the Malayalam name (cakka).
Jordanus Catalani’s (fl. 1321–1330) Mirabilia descripta: the wonders of the East was used to translate the book. The term k(y) comes from the Proto-Dravidian root k(y) (“fruit, vegetable”).
In his 1563 book Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India, physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta used the common English name “jackfruit.”
It was named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra, and Malaya, according to botanist Ralph Randles Stewart.
History of Jack’s Fruit
As evidenced by Southeast Asian names that are not derived from Sanskrit origins, the jackfruit was domesticated independently in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Austronesians are said to have domesticated it initially in Java or the Malay Peninsula. When both were part of the Spanish Empire, the fruit was later introduced to Guam by Filipino settlers. It is Bangladesh’s national fruit.
Description of the plant
The stem, the shape, and the leaves Artocarpus heterophyllus is an evergreen tree with a dense treetop and a rather short trunk. It grows to a height of 10 to 20 metres (33 to 66 feet) with a trunk diameter of 30 to 80 centimetres (12 to 31 inches). It can generate buttress roots on occasion. The jackfruit tree’s bark is smooth and reddish-brown. In the case that the bark is damaged, a milky fluid is emitted.
The leaves are spirally arranged and alternate. They are separated into a petiole and a leaf blade and are sticky and thick. The petiole ranges in length from 2.5 to 7.5 cm (1 to 3 inches). The leathery leaf blade is oblong to ovate in shape and measures 20 to 40 cm (7 to 15 inches) long and 7.5 to 18 cm (3 to 7 inches) wide.
The leaf edges of immature trees are irregularly lobed or broken. The leaves on older trees are spherical, dark green, and have a smooth leaf border. A conspicuous main nerve and six to eight lateral nerves start on each side of the leaf blade. Stipules range in length from 1.5 to 8 cm (916 to 3+18) and are egg-shaped.
Fruit and flowers
On the trunk, branches, and twigs, inflorescences form (cauliflory). Jackfruit trees are monoecious, meaning they produce both female and male flowers.
The inflorescences are pedunculated, cylindrical to ellipsoidal or pear-shaped, and range in length from 10–12 cm (3+1516–4+34) and width from 5–7 cm (2–3 inches). Initially, inflorescences are entirely encased in egg-shaped cover sheets, which slough off quickly.
The flowers are tiny and sit atop a rachis of flesh.
Male blooms are greenish in colour, and some are infertile. Male flowers are hairy, with two 1 to 1.5 mm (364 to 116 in) membranes at the end of the perianth. Straight stamens with golden, roundish anthers are noticeable on the individual and prominent stamens. The stamens turn ash-grey following pollen dispersal and fall off after a few days.
All of the male inflorescences eventually fall off as well. The female blooms have a fleshy flower-like base and a hairy and tubular perianth. An ovary with a large, capitate or occasionally bilobed scar can be found in female flowers. From December to February or March, the flowers blossom.
The ellipsoidal to roundish fruit is multiple fruits made up of the ovaries of several flowers fused together. On the trunk, the fruits grow on a long and robust stem.
They come in a variety of sizes and ripen from yellowish-greenish to yellow, then yellowish-brown at maturity. They have a firm, sticky shell with little pimples and hard, hexagonal tubercles surrounding them. The huge, irregularly shaped fruit is 30 to 100 cm (10 to 40 inches) in length and 15 to 50 cm (6 to 20 inches) in diameter and can weigh up to 10 kg (22–55 pounds).
A fibrous, white core (rachis) roughly 5–10 cm (2–4 inches) thick makes up the fruits. Many 10-centimeter-long (4-inch) individual fruits sprout from this. They are light brownish achenes that are elliptical to egg-shaped with a length of around 3 cm (1+18 inches) and a diameter of 1.5 to 2 cm (916 to 1316 inches).
Each fruit may contain 100–500 seeds. A thin, waxy, parchment-like, readily detachable testa (husk) and a brownish membrane tegmen make up the seed coat. In most cases, the cotyledons are uneven in size, and the endosperm is absent. A typical fruit has 27% edible seed coat, 15% edible seeds, 20% white pulp (undeveloped perianth, rags) and bark, and 10% core.
During the wet season, from July through August, the fruit ripens. The jackfruit’s bean-shaped achenes are covered with a hard yellowish aril (seed coat, flesh), which has an intensely sweet taste when fully mature.
Many tiny strands of fibre (undeveloped perianth) run between the hard shell and the core of the fruit and are firmly linked to it, encasing the pulp. When the inner component (core) is trimmed, it secretes a sticky, milky liquid that is difficult to remove from the skin, even with soap and water. Oil or other solvent is used to clean the hands after “unwinding” the pulp.
In Tanzania, for example, street sellers selling little segments of the fruit supply small basins of kerosene for their customers to clean their sticky fingers. Jackfruit has a distinct pleasant aroma when fully mature, and the pulp of the opened fruit smells like pineapple and banana.
Food | Jack’s Fruit
Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet, having a flavour that is similar to pineapple or banana.
It can be used to produce custards, cakes, or es teler (in Indonesia) or halo-halo (in the Philippines) by combining it with shaved ice. The fruit is utilised as an ingredient in the classic breakfast dish of southern India, idlis, and jackfruit leaves are used as a covering for steaming. The jackfruit meat can be ground with the batter to make jackfruit dosas. Seeded, fried, or freeze-dried ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes offered as jackfruit chips.
Once cooked, the seeds of mature fruits are edible and have a milky, sweet flavour that is often compared to Brazil nuts. They can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, baking, and roasting.
The seeds have a flavour similar to chestnuts when roasted. Seeds can be eaten as snacks (boiled or roasted) or used to make sweets. The seeds are often eaten as a snack in Java, boiled and seasoned with salt.
In India, they are widely utilised in the form of a classic lentil and vegetable combination dish. The tenderness of the young leaves makes them suitable for usage as a vegetable.
Aroma | Jack’s Fruit
The scent of jackfruit is distinctively sweet and fruity. The primary volatile chemicals found in a study of taste volatiles in five jackfruit cultivars were ethyl isovalerate, propyl isovalerate, butyl isovalerate, isobutyl isovalerate, 3-methylbutyl acetate, 1-butanol, and 2-methylbutan-1-ol.
A completely mature and unopened jackfruit is said to “emit a powerful odour” – maybe unpleasant, with the inside of the fruit smelling like pineapple and banana.
The seeds can be roasted and used as a commercial substitute for chocolate aroma.
Water makes up 74% of the edible pulp, while carbs make up 23%, protein is 2%, and fat is 1%. Sugars make up the majority of the carbohydrate component, which also serves as a source of dietary fibre.
Raw jackfruit has 400 kJ (95 kcal) per 100 gramme (3+12-ounce) serving and is a good source of vitamin B6 (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) (25 percent DV). It has modest levels of vitamin C and potassium (10-19% DV), but no substantial amounts of other minerals.
In underdeveloped areas, the jack’s fruit represents a partial solution for food security.
The ripe fruit has a flavour that is similar to a mix of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana.
The properties of the fruit flesh are used to differentiate the varieties. The “hard” form (crunchier, drier, and less sweet, but fleshier) and the “soft” version (softer, drier, and less sweet, but fleshier) are the two types found in Indochina (softer, moister, and much sweeter, with a darker gold-color flesh than the hard variety).
Unripe jackfruit has a mild flavour and meat-like texture, and it’s commonly used in curry recipes with spices across the globe. Unripe jackfruit must first have the skin peeled, then the remaining jackfruit flesh must be diced into edible chunks and cooked before serving, which is a labor-intensive process. The mild flavour, colour, and flowery features of the finished chunks remind me of cooked artichoke hearts.
Cooked young jack’s fruit is used in the cuisines of several Asian countries.
Jackfruit is a staple cuisine in many cultures, and it is cooked and used in curries. Young boiled jackfruit is used as a filler for cutlets and chops, as well as a vegetable in spicy curries and side dishes. Vegetarians can use it to replace meats like pulled pork, however the fruit’s protein value isn’t very high.
It can be eaten alone or with meat, shrimp, or smoked pork after being cooked with coconut milk. Unripe jackfruit slices are deep-fried to make chips in southern India.
South Asia is a continent in Asia.
The fruit is eaten on its own in Bangladesh. Curry uses the unripe fruit, and the seed is frequently dried and kept for subsequent use in curry. In India, the muttomvarikka and sindoor types of jackfruit are the most common. When ripe, the inside meat of the muttomvarikka fruit is slightly firm, whereas the inner flesh of the ripe sindoor fruit is mushy.
By marinating chunks of muttomvarikka fruit flesh in jaggery, a sweet dish known as chakkavaratti (jack’s fruit jam) is created, which may be kept and used for months. The fruits can be eaten on their own or as a side dish with rice.
The juice is extracted and consumed either on its own or as a side dish. Sometimes the juice is concentrated and sold as candy. The seeds are eaten with salt and fiery chilies after being boiled or roasted.
They can also be used to make spicy rice side dishes. To make a natural chewy candy, jackfruit can be mashed and turned into a paste, then spread out on a mat and dried in the sun.
Southeast Asia is a region in Southeast Asia.
Jackfruit is known as nangka in Indonesia and Malaysia. The ripe fruit is frequently sold individually and eaten on its own, or sliced and blended with shaved ice in desserts like es campur and es teler. The dried and fried ripe fruit is known as kripik nangka, or jackfruit cracker.
Because the seeds contain edible starchy content, they are boiled and eaten with salt; this is known as beton. Young (unripe) jackfruit is cooked in gulai nangka curry or stewed in gudeg.
Jackfruit is known in the Philippines as langka in Filipino and nangkà in Cebuano. The unripe fruit is traditionally cooked in coconut milk and served with rice as ginataang langka.
The ripe fruit is frequently used in Filipino desserts such as halo-halo and turon. The ripe fruit is preserved by keeping it in syrup or drying it, in addition to being eaten raw. Before eating, the seeds are also cooked.
Thailand is a large producer of jack’s fruit, which is typically sliced, processed, and canned in a sugary syrup (or frozen in bags or boxes without syrup) before being sent to North America and Europe.
Jaca-dura, or the “hard” variety, has a firm flesh and the largest fruits, which can weigh between 15 and 40 kg each; jaca-mole, or the “soft” variety, bears smaller fruits with softer and sweeter flesh; and jaca-manteiga, or the “butter” variety, bears sweet fruits with a consistency intermediate between the “hard” and “soft” varieties.
It evolved from a shade tree in gardens to a component in local dishes employing several fruit segments. To remove poisonous chemicals, the seeds are cooked in water or roasted, and then roasted for a variety of desserts. Unripe jack’s fruit flesh is used to make a salty, savoury meal with smoked pork. The arils of the jackfruit can be used to make jams or fruits in syrup, or they can be eaten raw.
Manufacturing and wood
In India, golden yellow wood with good grain is utilised for furniture and house construction. It resists termites and is a better choice for furniture construction than teak. The jackfruit tree’s wood is valuable in Sri Lanka and is shipped to Europe. Jackfruit wood is commonly used to make furniture, doors and windows, roof construction, and fish sauce barrels.
The tree’s wood is utilised in the manufacture of musical instruments. The hardwood from the trunk is carved out to make the barrels of gamelan drums in Indonesia, while the soft wood is used to make the body of the kutiyapi, a type of boat lute in the Philippines. It’s also used to make the veena’s body, as well as the mridangam, thimila, and kanjira drums in India.
Relevance in terms of culture
For millennia, the jack’s fruit has been an important part of Indian agriculture. According to archaeological finds in India, jackfruit was farmed 3000 to 6000 years ago. It’s also grown extensively throughout Southeast Asia.
During Hindu rites in Kerala, the priest sits on an ornate wooden board called avani palaka, which is constructed of jack’s fruit tree wood. Jackfruit wood is prized in Vietnam for constructing Buddhist statues for temples. Buddhist forest monastics in Southeast Asia utilise the heartwood as a dye, giving their robes a characteristic light-brown tint.
The jackfruit is Bangladesh’s national fruit, as well as the state fruit of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India.
In terms of plant care, just minor trimming is required; cutting out dead branches from the tree’s interior is only required on rare occasions.
To stimulate development for the following season, twigs carrying fruit must be twisted or cut down to the trunk.
To maintain productivity, branches should be cut every three to four years.
Some trees produce an excessive number of mediocre fruits, which are routinely destroyed to allow the rest to mature more fully.
Tetragonula iridipennis, a stingless bee that pollinates jack’s fruit, plays a vital role in jackfruit farming.
Marketing and production
India was the leading producer of jack’s fruit in 2017, with 1.4 million tonnes, followed by Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Producers, traders, and middlemen, such as wholesalers and retailers, are all involved in the marketing of jackfruit.
The marketing networks are quite intricate. Large farms sell immature fruit to wholesalers, which helps with cash flow and decreases risk, whereas medium-sized farmers sell to local markets or shops directly.
Availability for purchase
Fresh jack’s fruit can be obtained at Southeast Asian food markets outside of its origin countries.
It’s also grown extensively along the Brazilian coast, where it’s sold in local markets. It can be purchased canned in a sugary syrup or frozen, already prepared and cut. In Sri Lanka and Vietnam, jack’s fruit businesses have been formed, and the fruit is processed into flour, noodles, papad, and ice cream. It is also canned and exported as a vegetable.