I Don't Know 'Jack' About That!

Well who knew that there was such a versatile sustainable fruit growing in the tropics that could become a staple part of our diet in the next few decades? As the human need for a more plant based diet becomes necessity rather than choice as we will no longer be able to produce meat at the current level for all the people on the earth the jack fruit is a perfect meat like go-to. 

Multiple jack fruit growing on a Jack Fruit tree

How big?!
The Jack Tree, it is part of the fig, mulberry and breadfruit family, originally found in Southern Indian and Malaysia. Young trees are amazingly able to grow around 200 fruits per year but mature trees can grow up to 500 fruits and they aren't small fruits either. Producing the biggest fruit of any tree, they can grow to around 55kg, 90cm long and 50cm round - humungous! 

Woman admiring a large jack fruit growing on the tree

So, what can you eat?
Each fruit is composed of hundreds to thousands of individual flowers, and the fleshy petals of the fruit are eaten. Interestingly, the fruit is harvested both unripe and ripe because the green, unripe fruit is meaty in texture and mild in flavour so is eaten in savoury dishes, working well with spices for recipes such as curry or tacos. The ripe fruit, is sweeter and so works well in desserts and cakes. In the UK, we are most likely to find jack fruit in tins in our supermarkets, and generally it is readily available but it can also be used to make noodles and chips - why not have a go and let us know how you get on?

Unsurprisingly we are far behind Asian cuisine in using the jack fruit, but it is so popular over there that it is the national fruit of both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and the state fruit of the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Jack fruit ready to eat raw

Now I will readily admit that I am no whizz at recipes with a jack fruit having only recently come across it myself so here are two recipes from chefs around the world to give us all a head start...

Easy Jackfruit Curry

Author: Vegan Richa .com

Young green Jackfruit makes a great shredded meat sub. Easy, Vegan, Soy-free Gluten-free Grain-free Indian curry. Simple spices, amazing flavour.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins

Servings: 2  Author: Vegan Richa

1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
2 bay leaves
2 dried red chilies
1 small onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1 inch ginger chopped
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 medium tomatoes pureed or 1.5 cups puree
20 oz can green Jackfruit, drained, rinsed and squeezed to remove excess brine. Also chop into smaller pieces if too big. (see the first part of the post for availability details)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 to 1.5 cups water

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add cumin, mustard and nigella seeds and let them start to sizzle or pop. 1 minute.

Add bay leaves and red chilies and cook for a few seconds.

Add in the onion, garlic and ginger and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent. 5 to 6 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add coriander, turmeric, black pepper and mix well. Add pureed tomato, salt and Jackfruit. Mix. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Uncover and cook for a few minutes to thicken the tomato puree. Also, shred the Jackfruit a bit if you like.

Add water, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spice.

Reduce heat to medium low and cover and cook for another 10 minutes or longer until desired consistency. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Variation: You can also make this curry with cooked beans or chickpeas, or use shredded squash like butternut or use vegan chikn subs.

To make in a Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot: Follow steps 1 and 2 on saute mode in IP or Pressure cooker. Add tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes, then add jackfruit, salt and 1/2 to 1 cup water. Close the lid and pressure cook for 7 to 8 minutes once the cooker comes to pressure (manual 8 mins on IP). Wait for natural release. Shred the cooked jackfruit with a spatula if you wish and serve.

Easy Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit Upside-Down Cake
Recipe from TastingTable.com adapted from Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Nashville, TN

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, plus cooling time

For the Caramel:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing

½ cup granulated sugar

1 pound fresh jackfruit flesh, seeded and halved

For the Cake Batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup light brown sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, plus 3 yolks

For the Toffee Sauce:

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup light brown sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon lime juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

For Serving:

Butter pecan ice cream

1. Make the caramel: Preheat the oven to 350º and grease a 9-inch cake pan. In a medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium-high heat, stirring as needed, until an amber caramel has formed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the softened butter and cook, stirring constantly until emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately pour into the prepared cake pan, spreading to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Arrange the jackfruit, cut-side up, over the caramel.

2. Make the cake batter: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs and yolks. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until a smooth batter is formed. Pour the batter over the jackfruit in an even layer and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

3. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it slightly cool on a wire wrack, 5 to 10 minutes. Then invert the cake onto a plate.

4. Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce: In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half, light brown sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture has slightly thickened, 4 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, vanilla and salt, and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

5. To serve: slice the cake and divide between plates. Drizzle with the toffee sauce and serve with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream.

Vegan Jack fruit upside down cake

Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

And lastly...
If you find you cannot get enough of the jack fruit then have a look at Olive Magazine online, they have a few more recipes worth looking at.