Jackfruit | Artocarpus heterophyllus | A Sweet and Aromatic Tropical Delight

Artocarpus heterophyllus or  jackfruit, also known as jack tree, is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. Its origin is in the region between the Western Ghats of southern India and the rainforests of Malaysia.. It bears the largest fruit of all trees, reaching as much as 55 kg (120 pounds) in weight, 90 cm (35 inches) in length, and 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter. The ripe fruit is generally sweet and is more often used for desserts.

The jackfruit was domesticated independently in South Asia and Southeast Asia and is s commonly used in  cuisines of this region. Both ripe and unripe fruits are consumed. The jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and the state fruit of the Indian states of Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Jackfruit has a distinctive sweet and fruity aroma. Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet, with apineapple- or banana-like flavor. It is used in variety of dishes, including custards, cakes, or mixed with shaved. For the traditional breakfast dish in southern India, idlis, the fruit is used with rice as an ingredient and jackfruit leaves are used as a wrapping for steaming. Jackfruit dosas can be prepared by grinding jackfruit flesh along with the batter. Ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes seeded, fried, or freeze-dried and sold as jackfruit chips. The seeds from ripe fruits are edible once cooked, and are said to have a milky, sweet taste often compared to Brazil nuts. They may be boiled, baked, or roasted. When roasted, the flavor of the seeds is comparable to chestnuts. People across all of South East Asia enjoys jack fruit both as a fruit and vegetable (unripe jackfruits).  It is available internationally canned or frozen and in chilled meals as are various products derived from the fruit such as noodles and chips.

The jackfruit tree produces  golden yellow timber with good grain, which  is used for building furniture and house construction in India. It is naturally termite-proof and is superior to teak for building furniture. Jackfruit wood is widely used in the manufacture of furniture and fish sauce barrels. Jackfruit wood is also used to produce musical instruments. In Indonesia, hardwood from the trunk is carved out to form the barrels of drums  and in Philippines soft wood is made into the body of the kutiyapi, a type of boat lute. It is also used to make the body of the Indian string instrument veena and the drums like mridangam, thimila, and kanjira.

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Anuradha Dutta

Anuradha Dutta

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