I came upon a strange sight while doing the grocery-shopping today. From a distance, there appeared to be several prickly objects keeping company with the pineapples. Porcupine was the word that came to mind, although I knew that wasn’t right. When I got closer, I could see that it was called “Jack Fruit”.
When I got home, I went online to read a bit about it. Jackfruit is the largest tree-grown fruit, with each piece weighing between ten and eighty pounds, although they can reach one hundred pounds! It originated in India thousands of years ago, but is now mostly grown in places like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, the Caribbean, Vietnam, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Ironically, it seems to be looked down on in India as a poor-man’s food, despite it starting there.
Jackfruit has a pungent odor that some people say smells like a mix of over-ripe banana and pineapple, and others say smells like Juicy Fruit Gum. It is very sweet when ripe (skin will be yellow). If you harvest it before it is ripe, however, it is not sweet, and has the texture of meat. Some vegetarians use it as a meat substitute in dishes. Until recently, it was a food found mostly in Asian grocery markets, but now the strange-looking fruit is popping up in places like Whole Foods and mainstream grocery-stores.