Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is the world’s largest tree fruit — and perhaps the most delicious. Most people don’t realize that jackfruit seeds are also edible. In this article, you’ll find out how to use both the fruit and seeds from your amazing jackfruit.
The start of our love affair with jackfruit
Years ago before we had spoiled rotten pet/backyard ducks, we used to throw an annual summer solstice party in our backyard. On one such occasion, our friend Eliza showed up with a monstrously large, egg-shaped fruit. “Anybody want to try jackfruit?” she asked.
The Tyrant and I are always itching to try new things, and jackfruit was something we’d never seen or heard of before. (Jackfruit’s native range is southern India to Malaysia.) The fruit was sliced open and chunks of orange jackfruit pulp were there for the taking. It was love at first taste…
What does jackfruit taste like? If you remember what the chewing gum JuicyFruit tastes like, then you have a good idea of what jackfruit tastes: tropical and sweet with notes of pineapple and mango.
Even though we grow fruit year round, there’s no easy way to grow jackfruit in our climate zone. As unapologetic jackfruit addicts, this conundrum means that each summer we make a couple trips to our local Asian grocery store to buy jackfruit.
This year, we happened to find a jackfruit on the shelf in March — at Publix no less!
5 amazing jackfruit facts
Here are five amazing jackfruit facts that you can dazzle your dining companions with:
1. Jackfruits are the world’s largest tree-borne fruits.
The biggest jackfruit ever recorded was 94 lbs 2.9 ounces. (Pumpkins are technically the world’s largest fruit, hence the “tree-borne” qualifier on jackfruit.)
2. At peak, a jackfruit tree can produce up to 500 fruits per year — potentially more food than any crop on the planet.
If a 500 fruit jackfruit tree averaged a paltry 20 pounds per fruits, that means a single jackfruit tree could conceivably produce 10,000 pounds of fruit per year. That means an acre of jackfruit trees (48 trees per acre) could conceivably produce more food per acre than any other crop on earth — 480,000 pounds per acre per year!
It’s easy to see why many scientists and policy makers think jackfruit could put a big dent on world hunger, especially for developing tropical countries.
3. A jackfruit tree can live for 100+ years and requires very little maintenance or inputs compared to annual crops.
Most of the world’s staple crops (wheat, potatoes, maize, rice, etc) are annual plants that have to be grown from scratch each year. Not so with jackfruit trees, which can live for a century or more.
Jackfruit wood (from old trees whose fruit production has declined) is also highly prized for use in furniture, musical instruments, building construction, and more. This is illustrative of how perennial agriculture is a critical component of sustainable and regenerative global food production.
4. The pulp of immature jackfruit is often cooked and used as a meat substitute.
If you’ve ever had a vegan taco with a distinctly meat-like filling (with the texture of pulled pork), you likely had immature jackfruit. Although it doesn’t pack the protein of meat, it does pack a ton of essential vitamins and minerals.
5. Jackfruit seeds are also edible, so you get two types of food from one fruit.
Each jackfruit can contain hundreds of large seeds. Once properly cooked and prepared, jackfruit seeds taste like a cross between garbanzo beans and chestnuts.
This means you get a high protein fruit and a high protein starch from the same plant! (More on that below.)
How can you tell if a jackfruit is ripe?
So now you’re staring at a pile of jackfruits… How do you pick a ripe one?
You can tell if a jackfruit is ripe by using your nose! The skin of unripe jackfruit is virtually odorless. Once the fruit inside ripens, the skin emits a strong sweet but onion-like odor and has a slight give to it when you press it with your thumbs.
Don’t worry, the smell on the outside is not indicative of the delicious taste on the inside of your jackfruit.
How to process a jackfruit
The only negative thing we can say about jackfruit is that things can get rather messy when you’re processing them – especially if you’re a newbie. Jackfruit is a latex fruit, so the fruit’s stem and core have a glue-like sap when cut.
To keep this sap from covering your hands and knife, you’ll want to coat your knife blade in oil before you start cutting into the fruit.
There’s no single, easy way to cut open and process a jackfruit. We usually cut ours in half first, then cut each half in half so that we have four sections to work with.
Immediately after cutting open the fruit, sticky sap will start oozing out of the core. Wipe this off quickly with a paper towel before it drips on to the individual orange fruits lining the core.
Once you’re done with the cutting, you may also want to lightly coat your hands in cooking oil to prevent jackfruit latex from sticking to them as you start extracting the fruit.
Now comes the fun part: pulling out the individual orange fruits inside. The easiest way to do this: using a knife, cut where the fruit attaches to the core, then pull out each fruit by hand. Then slice open one side of the fruit to remove the large seed inside.
Fruit goes in one bowl, seeds go in another. It takes us about 20 minutes to fully de-fruit and de-seed a large jackfruit.
The nutritional profile of jackfruit FRUIT is as follows (per 1 cup of fruit):
- Calories: 155
- Carbs: 40 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 10% (recommended daily intake/RDI)
- Vitamin C: 18%
- Riboflavin: 11%
- Magnesium: 15%
- Potassium: 14%
- Copper: 15%
- Manganese: 16%
Here is the nutritional profile of jackfruit SEEDS (per 1 ounce serving):
- Calories: 53
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0.5 grams
- Riboflavin: 8%
- Thiamine: 7%
- Magnesium: 5%
- Phosphorus: 4%
- high concentrations of thiamine and riboflavin (two important B vitamins)
As you can see from the nutritional information above, jackfruit provides both a high-protein fruit and a high-protein starch, both of which are packed with other important nutrients.
How to prepare jackfruit seeds for use
Jackfruit seeds need to be cooked prior to consumption or use in recipes. Follow these simple jackfruit seed cooking instructions:
1. Put seeds in cooking pot.
2. Cover with 2-3″ of water and add a sprinkle of salt.
3. Bring water to boil then turn down to medium heat and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes until you can poke a fork through the seed with relative ease.
4. Let the seeds cool to room temperature, then remove the outer seed coat (testa). The easiest way we’ve found to do this is cut the seed in half with a knife, then remove with your fingernails.
Jackfruit fruit & seed recipes
Now comes the best part: eating your jackfruit!
Our jackfruit fruit salsa recipe and jackfruit seed hummus recipe help you put both edible parts of a jackfruit to their full potential. Break out the tortilla chips, homemade flatbread, or homemade tortillas and enjoy these jackfruit recipes as a dip or use the salsa on top of fish or chicken.
Jackfruit Meyer lemon salsa
A delicious and versatile jackfruit salsa that can be eaten as-is or used as a topping on other dishes.
- 2 cups jackfruit, diced
- 1 whole perfectly ripened Meyer lemon, diced (skin and all) if regular lemon, just add juice and zest
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup chopped green onion leaf (or substitute 1/2 cup purple onion bulb)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Dice all necessary ingredients, add to bowl, mix, and serve!
Jackfruit seed humus
A delicious and simple humus recipe made with jackfruit seeds, which have a nearly identical taste and texture to garbanzo beans.
- 3 cups cooked jackfruit seeds see jackfruit seed cooking instructions above
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cups water (or veggie bouillon)
- 1 whole Meyer lemon, de-seeded (skin and all) for regular lemons, just use zest and juice, not pith
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 tsp cumin
- paprika to garnish
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
To you current and future jackfruit addicts out there: we hope this article and recipes help you fall even more in love with jackfruit while using both the fruit and seeds of this amazing tropical plant.