Let's talk jackfruit

A local grocery sometimes has jackfruit for sale. I’m intrigued, but I’ve never bought it because I have no idea how to prepare it.

I have read that fully ripe jackfruit is usually eaten as a fruit. How do you know if it’s ripe? What prep do you need to do to the fruit? Is it good raw? Could you make jackfruit muffins or a jackfruit crisp from it?

If it’s not ripe, I understand you can use it as a meat substitute. How do you prepare it? I’m thinking remove rind, slice, remove seeds and then…? Saute and add barbecue sauce? Stirfry with veggies?

Any good recipes you’d like to share?

I enjoy jackfruit. I often buy it when my supermarket is selling slices (buying a whole jackfruit is more than I would eat). The flavor is somewhat like mild pineapple and the texture is like dried apricot.

One issue with jackfruit is you get a lot of waste for a relatively small amount of edible fruit; you’re going to end up throwing out around three quarters of what you buy in order to eat the remaining quarter.

I’ve always eaten it raw. I know it’s used cooked as a meat substitute but I’ve never had it this way.

I don’t know how to tell when the fruit is ready to eat. My local store sells it when it’s ready .

Jackfruit is awesome and delicious - it was very common in Indonesia and I ate a lot if it there, although usually I just bought or was given the arils, not the whole fruit to hack away at on my own. Here in Hawai’i where the the labor market is different, I have to deal with a whole fruit. Here is a quick intro to the wisdom I have gained, such as it is:

First of all - if you get a whole jackfruit and need to cut it, oil your knife first. The outer hull oozes a latex-like substance that is hell to remove from your knife if you just cut into the skin without oiling first.

Second - I’m not sure if I can explain the difference between unripe use-it-for-stew jackfruit vs. ripe eat-it-as-is very well; it’s a little like the old pornography rule of “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.” When it’s ripe and ready to eat as it, it is fragrant and fruity and toothsome. If it seems tougher, whiter, less fragrant, it’s probably less ripe.

Here’s a recipe for gudeg, a popular Indonesian stew made with jackfruit. I have no idea if it’s good or not, but it’s in English, which is a start.

One more bit of advice: the seeds are AMAZING. Do not throw them out, they are edible. Last time I had jackfruit, I saved the seeds, boiled them, and made “hummus,” except I used jackfruit seeds instead of chickpeas. It was ethereally delicious.

It is kind of like a mango. They ripen slowly for a long time then quickly get to perfection. I used to get coconut ice cream with jackfruit slices on top at a local Thai restaurant. Really good.

As a meat substitute jackfruit is, in my opinion, crap. We made “pulled pork” from canned jackfruit and what you get is:

  1. Something that looks a lot like pulled pork, considering it’s a fruit.
  2. Something that tastes a bit like pulled pork, since you put a lot of spices on it.
  3. Something that has none of the nutritional value of pork.

It’s a lot of work too, but if 1 and 2 are super important to you, and 3 is of zero concern …

There’s your problem right there. Canned jackfruit isn’t going to work, anymore than a can of tunafish would make a good poke bowl.

I ate jackfruit stew countless times in Indonesia. The intent, for obvious reasons, was never to mimic pork. It’s quite tasty and meaty, made with fresh fruit. (I can’t imagine it ever has the nutritional profile of meat, though.)

My wife was curious about jackfruit and wanted me to pick one up at the grocery store, but even though they were advertised on the store’s website, they were never in stock for the longest time. Then one day last year there was one giant jackfriut available. It was like 19 lbs. and cost like $20-30 if I recall correctly.

It was a ton of work to dissect, a lot of waste, as mentioned, and the fruit was mostly flavorless, not really sweet, and somewhat mealy. I think this was because it may not have been ripe, or past its prime, or something. I’m sure a random SE Michigan Kroger is not the greatest place to find the best, freshest jackfruit.

As @CairoCarol says, the seed pods were really good-- the best part of it. There were a good number of them, and we boiled and ate them. They are reminiscent in taste and texture of giant chick peas. I didn’t think to make hummus out of them like CC did though, which would have been a great call-- we just ate them as-is, with a little salt, and a squeeze of lemon, maybe.

I bought some already prepared BBQ jackfruit out of curiosity two weeks ago, and finally made it last week. I pretty much agree with all your points. It looks a bit like pork, the way it breaks apart and has these “muscly” looking pieces to it. It only very vaguely tastes of pulled pork, because of the barbecue sauce (and I usually have my pulled pork minimally sauced, if at all, so it fails even moreso for me on that front.) It still very much has a fruity/vegetal backbone to it. And it does not satisfy one’s hunger like pork does. It was extremely disappointing as a meat substitute, after all that I had heard about it. I’d rather have a wheat gluten and/or soybean-based pork substitute. Something with a bit of meatiness and texture to it.

The recipe sounds intriguing, but I’m not sure I’m up for trying it. I’d have to order some galangal, Indonesian bay leaves, and candlenuts – although I guess I could sub macadamias for the candlenuts. Anyway, more work than I think I’m up to.

Thanks for the tip on the seeds. It would never have occurred to me that they are edible. If I do buy some jackfruit, I’ll be sure to try the “hummus.”

Some good info in this recent thread: Seeking Dopers' opinions on jackfruit - #18 by Chingon

Curious about jackfruit? The best way to satisfy that curiosity without a huge commitment in terms of cost, labor, and mess is to get some frozen jackfruit arils at your nearest Asian food store. The arils are yellow/orange, fragrant, and quite sweet with the flavor of Juicyfruit gum. If you want to be more adventurous, you can get either a whole jackfruit or, possibly, a wedge cut out of one. To extract the arils from either, you should use a sharp, sturdy knife lightly coated with vegetable oil. Oil your hands a bit as well. The fruit oozes latex which is hard to get off otherwise. The tendons that surround the arils can be eaten as well; however, pulled pork substitute is best made from unripe jackfruit. The seeds can be roasted or boiled and eaten as well. There are Youtube videos that demonstrate preparation techniques. Why this fruit is not better known and eaten in the US is hard to understand. Enjoy.