11 Dec What is Jackfruit?
You know your apples, oranges, and bananas, but you don’t know jack…as in jackfruit. At The Cider Press Cafe, we use it in our BBQ and Sonoma Jack Sandwiches as well as our Cuban platter. So what exactly is it?
Well, there’s a good reason why it’s not quite a household name yet. Not to say that it isn’t delicious (that’s far from the fact), but because it’s from the other side of the world. Jackfruit is believed to have originated from the Western Ghats. For those of you who haven’t brushed up on your Asian geography, it’s a mountainous rainforest that runs parallel to the south western coast of India.
So image a picturesque landscape of tall mountains, lush flora, and waterfalls as far as the eye can see. The Western Ghats also boasts the largest Indian elephant population and the second largest Bengal tiger population as well. Jackfruit itself looks as exotic as its home.
On the outside, they look like big, green spiky eggs…that can weigh as much as a toddler. This large fruit also grows on trees that can grow as high as 80 feet tall. That’s roughly the size of two city busses stacked on top of one another front-to-back. When they’re fully ripe, they can be quite sweet. Some would describe it as a cross between a banana and a pineapple. When you harvest them before they ripen, they get a texture that’s similar to meat. Hence, it makes a great substitute in many of our dishes. In West Bengal, it’s referred to as “tree mutton.”
Jackfruit has been harvested for around the last 3,000 to 6,000 years. Like anything delicious, it migrated to nearby regions, and has now made it to your plate. Although it came from India it had spread through southeast Asia, all the way to the Philippines. Jackfruit trees produce a high yield of crops and are quite resistant to droughts. Florida has been growing jackfruit for about a century since the tree grows well in warm climates.
Not only has the fruit been gaining popularity in the West, but it also brings some health benefits. They’re loaded with vitamins, low on calories, fibrous, and contain protein. According to a an article published in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Safety, the seeds of the plant have antimicrobial properties. This might help with preventing food borne illnesses. (we also hear rumors it’s a natural viagra!)
If you haven’t tried jackfruit yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing! Stop by The Cider Press Cafe to try it out for yourself, or any of our other dishes.