Monday, April 22, 2013

What is Jackfruit?

The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), originating in India, is a relative of the common breadfruit (Artocarpus incises). Producing some of the largest fruits known, a record 144 lbs. jackfruit was found in that country. In Hawaii, they are smaller, averaging around 35 lbs., with the largest known size of 79 lbs. Depending on several factors, jackfruit trees can produce from 20 to 250 fruits per year, and even up to 500. The fruit is borne along the trunk and older branches. 

In Hawaii, trees will thrive from elevations of 100 feet to 5,000 feet. They are tolerant to salt spray but not strong, drying winds. For good fruit production, irrigation is needed in times of drought. Trees can live to 100 years old.  

In many areas of the world, half-ripe fruit is commonly cooked into curries, soups, and stews. It can also be pickled, dried, and canned.  Ice cream, pudding, gum, and beverages are also made from the fruit. The gluten-free seed flour can be substituted for wheat for those with specific food allergies.

When to pick the giant fruit? Harvest season will vary, of course, depending on location. The important thing to know is that fruit matures 6-8 months after flowering. Factors which indicate that harvest of the fruit is near, include a hollow sound when tapped, change of skin color, increased odor and a flattening of its spines.

Photos: University of Florida Extension

Ask the Garden Guy Science Based Answers to Garden Questions, is an excellent resource book for the gardener. Some popular topics include Slugs and Snails, Organic Pesticides, Reasons, Why Vegetable Seeds Do Not Germinate, What’s So Hot about Manure? and Mushrooms in the Lawn.  Purchase by clicking on the image of the book above.