Welcome to week 33 everyone! This week we are chomping on some jackfruit which is native to India, has bumpy green skin and could pass as dragon eggs. These are the facts.
I’ve been hitting up my local Asian grocery store perusing their produce section for quite some time now and I’ve always passed by these gigantic melons. Your local Asian grocery store is the best place to buy jackfruit both in quality and price. I’ve heard that places like Kroger and Whole Foods will carry them sometimes, but I think those may only be available around more populated areas and probably more expensive.
I just want to throw out that every single time I have been to my local market their produce has been fantastic but this last visit must be the day before a truck gets there because I had a hard time finding anything. Before I left the house though I decided that this was going to be jackfruit week, and by God, I was coming home with jackfruit. Truck or no truck.
What they had left was one whole jackfruit melon and five or six packages of jackfruit quarters. I am not going to lie to you all, we have been on a budget to get rid of various debts, and I really did have my heart set on purchasing a whole jackfruit. I picked it up, carried it around like a puppy then would put it down and pick up the quarters. I basically took a test drive with both around the store which I now wonder if the employees thought I was going to run out with them.
Alas, my heart had to listen to my brain and we settled on two chunks of jackfruit already cut up. The two packages together cost $4 and some cents compared to what would probably be a $25 whole jackfruit at 99 cents a pound. I would have so much fruit leftover from a whole one that we’d all be sick of it. Jackfruit deserves a better place in this house and I am not about food waste.
If you think you need a fruit that is about the size of two medium sized chihuahuas, well, you don’t. I would compare purchasing a whole jackfruit as the same as purchasing a whole watermelon. You get so excited to buy a whole watermelon until it comes time to cut it up and figure out how many containers will hold a whole watermelon worth of fruit and you wish you just had half of one.
Breaking apart a whole jackfruit requires a ton of effort if you do decide to purchase one, and lots of patience with sticky substances. I watched tons of videos to prepare myself for possibly slicing through a whole one and you have to oil your knife so it doesn’t get too sticky and you are going to have to put some heft behind that knife too so keep those fingers tucked in for sure!
Have I mentioned how excited I’ve been to try jackfruit? I think knowing there is a fruit bigger and heavier than your head is super interesting and terrifying. I can’t imagine that people walk under a jackfruit tree without shielding their skulls just in case of ripe droppings.
I haven’t even touched on the smell of this thing. You see, I absolutely love the Asian grocery I go to, but it also has a very distinctive smell from their offerings of unique produce, open containers of fermented foods and a very expansive meat and seafood case in the back. It is a smell that takes some getting used to, but it isn’t awful, just sometimes overpowering. I thought that perhaps that smell clung to the shrink wrap the jackfruit quarters were wrapped in, but I had to make another stop before going home, leaving the jackfruit in my car. I opened the door after about fifteen minutes of leaving it in there and it hit me like a fan on full blast.
It is a very sweet smell that reminds me of pineapple, but not quite. It is a vague tropical fruit smell that I wish I had a better description of, but it is a fragrant piece of fruit that you know is somewhere in your fridge.
Anyway, getting the fruit out of the jackfruit was actually pretty fun until I noticed that the sticky sap was making those fibers cling to my hands like super glue. To make it easy to peel apart the fibers, it is best to go ahead and sort of peel the skin away with a knife which makes them fall apart easier. Also make sure that you check underneath the core because there could be a kernel or two underneath it.
They reminded me a little bit like lychee since you have to remove the seed and it just leaves you with a hollowed out pouch. I feel like this would be a convenient fruit to stuff with maybe rice or nuts.
Around 30 minutes of digging through these fibrous petals and sap, my two chunks of fresh jackfruit yielded about three or four cups worth of flesh. I felt proud of the work I had put forth so maybe it will taste sweeter.
You want to know why I’m actually excited about trying a jackfruit though?
One of my favorite books was Mutiny on the Bounty and to this day I am not sure why, I think I just liked stuff about boats. If you haven’t read it, spoiler alert, it is about a crew transporting breadfruit plants and they eventually mutiny. (When I looked up who wrote it I just found out that this was a real event though and this is mind blowing). I had no clue what breadfruit was and at the time I imagined it was just some weird kind of nut. I found out today that jackfruit is actually a member of the breadfruit family though! This is the same as daydreaming about eating a Krabby Patty from Spongebob to discover it was based on some obscure diner’s hamburger and you get to eat it!
Thanks for allowing me to geek out there ever so slightly. I have been so excited to get to some more obscure stuff though and I believe this definitely falls under that category. Stick around this week and we’ll tackle jackfruit together.