What Is A Jackfruit? It's An Up-And-Coming Superfood That Weighs Up To 100 Pounds, So Get Ready
When they told me there was a kind of fruit named after my two favorite things (Jack Donaghy and jackrabbits), I said "No way." But there is! And it is pretty great. The jackfruit is the largest tree fruit on Earth — it can sometimes grow up to 100 pounds — and it might just have the potential to help countries suffering from a lack of nutrition. The jackfruit is fantastic for a number of reasons: Nutritionally, jackfruits are high in protein and vitamins and minerals, and are healthier than other staples like rice and corn. What's more, the trees take five to seven years to actually grow fruit, and a typical tree is expected to grow from 150-200 fruit per year.
Because the tree is perennial and easy to care for, the task of cultivating the tree is much easier and less time-intensive than that of wheat, corn or beans, as NPR reports.
Believed to be native to South Asia, the fruit is from the mulberry tree family and emits a vaguely icky, musty scent. The fruit has taken on the name "Poor Man's Food" because it grows quickly and easily during monsoon season, while there is generally a scarcity of other vegetables. It has also been called the Kalpavriksha, or the divine wish-fulfilling tree, because of its great utility.
That said, it isn't surprising that a group of scientists in Bangalore, India are so bent on spreading the gospel of the jackfruit. In fact, the group will be holding the International Symposium on Jackfruit and Bread fruit (a cousin of the jackfruit), where they will discuss how to develop new production technologies, marketing strategies, and preservation efforts, among other topics.
But the fruit has gained popularity outside the region, with the television network E! declaring it the new vegan go-to ingredient for compassionate cooks. Because if we've learned nothing else from quinoa and other exotic fad foods, it's that if a plant has the potential to feed the poorest of the poor, then New York and LA's elite will promptly increase demand until the indigenous communities reliant upon the food can no longer afford it. (Or, maybe the opposite will happen, and our increased lust for jackfruit will support a burgeoning industry!)
According to Chichi Wang of Serious Eats, the taste itself is something special:
The flavor and texture are like nothing else I've tasted: the flavor falls somewhere between a pineapple and a banana with hints of mango; the texture, depending on the ripeness of the fruit, can be mildly chewy like a soft gummy bear or as juicy as a succulent scallop.
So, the moral of the story is this: jackfruit is awesome. Eat it… or wait, don't. We can't remember.