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What is Jackfruit?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A jackfruit is a huge, spined, oval fruit that is believed to have been first cultivated in Indian rainforests. It's mostly grown in tropical climates, and is the largest fruit in the world, weighing up to 80 pounds (about 36 kg) with a length of up to 3 feet (0.91 m). Though it has a notoriously bad smell when ripening, the flesh and the seeds of the fruit are edible. Since it's an acquired taste, the fruit isn't much of a cash crop, but some people do like to serve it in desserts and curries. It's also the national fruit of Bangladesh.

Most jackfruit is grown in tropical or close to tropical climates, and it is still found in many parts of India, as well as in most of Southeast Asia. In the Americas, the fruits are largely grown in Brazil. A few trees have thrived in Florida and San Diego, but the northern parts of the US and all of Canada are generally too cold. In the proper climate, the trees can grow roughly 60 feet (about 18 m) tall.

The exterior of the fruit is not edible, but the flesh and seeds are commonly eaten. When outside has turned from green to yellow, it is ready to be picked. Jackfruit tends to be an acquired taste and frequently does not appeal to those unfamiliar with it. The ripening fruits have an odor that has been compared to the smell of rotting onions. This often discourages people from trying the interior.

Each fruit contains numerous sweet, banana-like bulbs that many people find delicious. One variety has a crunchy, rather than mushy, texture and is generally preferred. The seeds can be roasted and are compared to chestnuts in flavor. Cutting and preparing the flesh is tricky, because the fruit is very sticky and can actually be used as glue. Most people oil their hands to prevent some of the stickiness from transferring, but washing up afterwards is still a chore.

Jackfruit's popularity varies in different countries, but in most places, the fruit is either cooked with rice or eaten raw. Many people don't wait for the fruit to ripen but prepare it when it is still relatively small, unripe, and crunchy. In India, it's eaten raw or used in curries, soups, and stews. It is also used in various deserts and is a common ingredient in fruit salads. The fruit is not particularly popular in India, and is very cheap there, so it's not easy to make a profit growing it.

In the United States, the fruit may be found in Middle Eastern and Asian markets. It is almost always imported from either Brazil or Australia, where it grows well. Modern recipes from Australia suggest serving gravy made from it over lamb or pickling the small unripe fruits. It can also be used to make patties, casserole, salad, and fruit compote.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon1004162 — On Dec 02, 2020

I'm from India, and the Jackfruit is called Katahael in Hindi. Contrary to what the article says, it is extremely popular in India. I've not only eaten it within my own community but also other considerably different communities within the country. For us, it can either be cooked in a curry or even dry with spices. We usually have ours with our traditional bread- roti, but I'm sure many people might have it with rice. I've honestly never come across people eating it raw within India, though some friends from Singapore sent us Jackfruit candy, and it would have been an acquired taste if we were able to get over the distinctive odor.

By anon999942 — On Apr 19, 2018

For those of you who get that 'tingling', 'funny' feeling on your tongue or throat, be very careful! This fruit is has some latex in it, so you could be allergic without realizing it.

By anon996927 — On Oct 26, 2016

Doesn't sound like anything I would like, so I won't try it. Thanks for the information though!

By anon995928 — On Jun 11, 2016

I'm in San Antonio, Texas. I saw them for the first time ever in my life at the supermarket yesterday. I bought a mid sized one that was a whopping 25 pounds! $37 US. It was worth every penny, plus the four hours labor my daughter and I spent breaking down this amazing fruit. Tastes like a combo of apple, pineapple, bananas, and mango. The aftertaste is heavenly.

I looked up instructions on the web. Inside should be yellow, and if not, it's raw and should not be eaten unless it's cooked. My jackfruit was a light orange color.

I cut it in half lengthwise from the stem to the bottom, then cut lengthwise again into quarters. When the fruit was first cut open, it had an odd smell like stinky socks. But that smell is not the fruit. Bend quarters to expose fruit pods. Removing the fruit pods is labor intensive because pods have to be freed from a white fleshy core and from white fibrous filaments surrounding each pod. There is a stickiness throughout the whole process. It's like freeing a pod from its "packing".

Once freed, the pods are not sticky. Eating or licking anything white or sticky resulted in an unpleasant experience so only eat the fruit pod. Inside the pod is a large seed surrounded by a membrane. Remove both. I'm going to roast the seeds once I find a recipe.

We filled three one-gallon plastic food storage bags with fruit. We would have had four bags, but the family ate about one gallon's worth right away. I stored the bags in the refrigerator and it tastes even better cold! I'm a fan.

By anon995601 — On May 12, 2016

Sounds like this fruit is alive! It's creating a tacky substance to protect itself and that's why so many people have bad reactions when eating it. Scary.

By anon283864 — On Aug 07, 2012

Olive oil can remove the sticky juice from jackfruit.

By anon256277 — On Mar 21, 2012

I've just had two pieces and my tongue feels tingly. If that's the only bad reaction I get it's worth it!

By anon124982 — On Nov 08, 2010

I have the exact same reaction like anon34080. Throat got very dry and I had difficulties swallowing. Almost feels like I'm going to suffocate if this stickiness in the throat does not fade. Will also never eat it again.

By anon90153 — On Jun 14, 2010

rub your hands with peanut butter for about a minute to get the stickiness off.

By anon84310 — On May 14, 2010

Yum! Dried jackfruit is the best. I buy it in big bins in the Asian farmer's market. I saw one in the market and was tempted to "do it myself" but chickened out. Now, that I read these posts I am glad I did. Better to buy prepared!

By anon57479 — On Dec 23, 2009

in reference to "how do you clean up after..." use vegetable oil to coat your hands and knife blade prior to cutting fruit/removing fruit with your hands. the sticky stuff is the center part- sometimes this part will exude sap (very sticky).

By anon50078 — On Oct 25, 2009

I love jackfruit and I ate them all the time since I was a young girl. My parents planted lots of theme in our farm and we love it! You can cook them raw with coconut milk, meat, fish and eat them with rice. Ripe jackfruit is best when you eat them just that, fresh! The seeds, you boiled it or roasted.

By ArchAngel666 — On Jun 20, 2009

How do you clean up after using Jack fruit? After removing the fleshy fruit from the rest of the pods my hands are coated with this tacky substance.

By anon34080 — On Jun 16, 2009

I ate the flesh from a jackfruit tonight. I did not have a good reaction. My throat started to feel weird, felt prickly at the back of my throat when I swallowed. This feeling lasted at least 15-20 minutes. Felt like the back of my tongue got a little swollen. Seems to be wearing off now. I will never eat this again!!

By habura — On Jun 10, 2008

The jackfruit is also used to make a syrup, and the seeds are usually not eaten raw but only after being boiled or roasted.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
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