The oval-shaped jackfruit is covered in fleshy spines. Unripe, they appear green and as they become ripe, they turn golden yellow. The fruit yields to gentle pressure when ripe and gives off a strong onion-like odor. Though jackfruit flesh and seeds are edible, the skin is not. The flesh, which resembles that of a banana, has a texture like chicken… and is even nicknamed the vegetarian’s meat. The tropical flavor of a ripe jackfruit will remind you of mangoes, pineapples, and bananas. Don’t expect the same pleasant flavor from an unripe one though-it will be crunchier and taste a bit meaty. The seeds are said to taste like chestnuts after roasting.
As you can imagine, cutting one of these giants is quite an intimidating task. Here’s a tutorial to show you how. You’ll want to come prepared with gloves and cooking oil; the sap is so sticky that it’s used to make glue in some countries. Jackfruits make great additions to soups, stews, curries, casseroles, and fruit salads-just to name a few. Sick of the same old tuna sandwich? This take on the usual will make you want to ditch the tuna.
Jackfruits grow from May to August and then again from September to December. Brazil, Thailand, India, and Mexico are top producers, but you can still find very small amounts growing domestically in Florida and the San Diego area.
Whole unripe jackfruits can sit out on the counter for about six days and about four days for whole ripe ones. After slicing them up, store the pieces in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to four days of use. You can also freeze the cut pieces to get a month out of them.