Tasty Tuesday – Jackfruit
Boy, has it been busy around here again this past week, and it will continue to be for at least the next 10 days. Why? Well, we were in a part of Thailand called Khao Yai from this past Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon (without internet, thus, no blogging)… Spent all of Monday running around Bangkok pricing household items, buying a mattress (at a 60% discount – hooray!), and signing papers on our new house. Yes, our new house! More on that to come as we move in… 8 days. Whoa.
Today was full of final classes, tonight full of studying (from which I am taking a short break to write this and eat a bowl of Carnation brand almond ice cream) for my module 9 (Christian communication) and final Year-One exams tomorrow. Then, it’s a week of cleaning, packing, and seeing everyone and their brother for the next week while the Mr. completes his studies and exams (ending Wednesday, July 7th)… final Fellowship Group meeting next Wednesday night… and then we move the 8th! Is your head spinning from that? Again, I say whoa.
So, here we are chatting about food. That makes me happier than studying books of course. So, what will I introduce you to this week? Jackfruit. Why? Because our new house (oh, how I LOVE to say that!) has its very own little – well, quite big, actually – jackfruit tree at the back corner of your yard. (Yes, we have a yard, too! Ok, I’ll stop – you have to wait until we move for more info.)
Jackfruit are thought to be the largest of all tree-grown fruits in the world. Depending on location and climate, this fruit can reach up to 80 pounds in weight, 20 inches in diameter, and 36 inches in length! It has a bumpy green exterior and tends to grow low on the tree. When opened, the fruit emits a fragrance similar to a blend of pineapples and bananas. However, I’ve been told that if the fruit ripens and is left unopened, it will begin to smell like rotting onions until cracked open and the smell of its interior flesh can take over. Eeew. We’ll have to see how this works out with our own tree.
So, what part of the jackfruit do you actually eat? Every football-shaped jackfruit can contain between 100-500 seeds (depending on the size of your fruit) with fleshy pods or bulbs surrounding each one. The pods are a canary yellow in color, and tend to have a crisp, slightly sweet texture. I seem to think it tastes similar to a tart, not quite yet ripened banana. Depending on ripeness, it may even make your teeth squeak when you bite into it, so if certain food textures or sensations give you the heebie jeebies, you may want to steer clear of this particular snack.
As with many things in Asia, every part that can be used of both this fruit and the tree it comes from will be used. The large seeds found inside of each bulb can be boiled and eaten similar to a chestnut. The bulbs themselves can be eaten raw as a fruit, boiled or stewed in curries, or (due to it’s texture being similar to cooked chicken) used as a vegetarian meat substitute in certain Thai dishes. Its leaves are used for wrapping different types of foods, and making containers for small items. The wood of the jackfruit tree is quite lovely in color and is used in making certain Southeast Asian musical instruments, as well as furniture and certain housing elements in India. Also, the wood can also be used to create a deep golden colored dye for ceremonial clothes worn by monks. They really do use every part of the tree.
Sadly, I doubt you’ll be able to find jackfruit in your local market or grocery store, as there are only a handful of trees located in Southern Florida, and a few more in the Asian exhibit at the San Diego zoo. Looks like you’ll just have to come visit me in Thailand, and eat them from MY tree! 🙂