Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)


The flesh of the jackfruit is starchy, fibrous and is a source of dietary fiber. The flavour is similar to a tart banana. Varieties of jackfruit are distinguished according to the characteristics of the fruits’ flesh. In Brazil, three varieties are recognized. These are: jaca-dura, or “hard” variety, which has firm flesh and the largest fruits that can weigh between 15 and 40 kilograms each; jaca-mole, or “soft” variety, which bears smaller fruits, with softer and sweeter flesh; and jaca-manteiga, or “butter” variety, which bears sweet fruits, whose flesh has a consistency intermediate between the “hard” and “soft” varieties.

In Kerala, mainly two varieties of Jackfruit are found: Varikka and Kuzha. Varikka has slightly hard flesh for the inner fruit when it becomes ripened. Kuzha fruit has very soft, almost dissolving type flesh for the inner fruit on ripening. A sweet preparation called Chakka Varattiyathu is made by seasoning the Varikka fruit flesh pieces in jaggery, which can be preserved and used for many months. Huge jackfruits up to 4 feet length with matching girth are sometimes seen in Kerala.

The largest tree borne fruit in the world, jackfruits can sometimes weigh over 75 lbs. Average sized fruits are 1-2 feet long, and 9-12" wide. Skin is green-yellow, with small spiky knobs, flesh is custard yellow with a banana-like flavor. Fruits may sometimes emit a foul smelling odor emanating from the skin. Jackfruits are extremely popular throughout southeast Asia.

Description: A very large tree growing to 90+ feet in ideal conditions. The trunk, branches, and leaves contain a gummy latex.

Hardiness: The jackfruit is mildly hardy, surviving short frosts and temperatures to 28F for brief periods. Young trees will be killed by any frost.

Growing Environment: Grow in a warm location, with well drained soil. Jackfruit’s cannot stand drought, so water frequently throughout the year, except when cold.

Propagation: Usually by seed which germinate in 1-8 weeks. Air-layering and grafting is done to propagate some named varieties. Transplant seedlings after a few leaves have sprouted as the jackfruit has a long tap root that is easily damaged.

Uses: Fruits are often sliced and sold raw in parts of southeast Asia. The seeds can be boiled or roasted and are said to taste like chestnuts.

Native Range: Native to rain forests of India and southeast Asia.

Dishes and preparations: Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. It can be eaten unripe (young) when cooked, or ripe uncooked. The seeds may be boiled or baked like beans. The leaves are used as a wrapping for steamed idlis.