Jackfruit, the flavor of India
Among the exotic fruits that increasingly we find on our tables, Jackfruit deserves special attention. Little known in Italy, but already a must for many countries, Jackfruit or Jaca is the largest tropical fruit in the world to grow on a tree and is grown in India, its place of origin, for many years. In tropical countries it is known for the many properties that make it a genuine superfruit.
Jackfruit, scientific name Artocarpus heterophyllus, is a bizarre looking exotic fruit, not widely known in European markets.
It is an evergreen tree with reddish bark that can reach a height of 30 meters. Currently, the jackfruit is widely grown in tropical countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, and Malaysia. In one season, a tree can produce up to 250 pieces of fruit.
A completely extraordinary fruit
The jackfruit can reach a meter in length with a weight of 3 to 30 kg each. The giant fruits have a protective peel studded with small spikes, which, when fully ripe, take on a brownish hue. Inside, there are numerous seeds covered with fibrous yellow pulp with a sweet taste reminiscent of pineapple and mango. This pulp is rich in potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus. It’s a good source of vitamins C, B1, and B6 and it’s also low in fat.
The chemical make-up of jackfruit cause it to be considered a superfruit with a very high nutritional value. Due to its high antioxidant properties, it is useful for healthy skin, eyes, circulatory system, heart, and colon to prevent some cancers. The presence of mineral salts together with its calorie count, make Jaca an energizing food suitable for athletes or whoever is involved in intense physical activity.
The pulp provides a good amount of calories, but it’s low in fat and has antioxidant properties derived from vitamin C (100 grams contain about a quarter of the recommended daily dose). It is also rich in vitamin B6 and vitamin B1 which enhance the immune system.
The fruit is composed of dietary fiber which acts as a laxative and has the ability to protect the colon from certain forms of cancer, while the seeds are rich in protein.
Finally, jackfruit is gluten-free which makes it a perfect food also for people with celiac disease.
In Southeast Asian countries, the fruit is eaten in various ways: it can be stewed, fried, boiled, reduced to juice as well as into flour. In Italy, however, it is predominantly found canned, preserved in syrup.
The only drawback of this is that food must be consumed in a short time, since it tends to decay very quickly.
- Jackfruit today is considered the food of the future. The nutritional properties of the fruit, the plant’s ability to adapt to hot, dry climates, and its ease of cultivation point towards its eventual overtaking of corn and wheat in the food supply of the next few years in case of drastic changes due to global warming;
- Every ripe fruit can contain up to 500 seeds and therefore up to 500 pulp bulbs;
- It is the symbolic fruit of Bangladesh and is considered sacred. In South India it is a symbol of good wishes;
- The jackfruit is suitable for many other uses: from the fruit you can obtain flour and a dye (the same dye used by Buddhist monks to color their robes); the leaves can serve as food for animals; the tree itself produces a sticky substance that’s used as a natural glue.