Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a tropical tree native to western India. This handsome tree is cultivated in Florida as a novelty for its very large (up to 70 pounds) tree-born fruit. The flesh is an orange to custard yellow color with a banana-like flavor enclosing a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit has a strong earthy odor, and its ripe fleshy bulbs smell of sweet pineapple and banana.
Westerners generally appreciate the jackfruit's flavor when it is in the full-grown but unripe stage. In India, it is preserved by boiling the bulbs with sugar syrup, butter and coconut milk. The jackfruit bulbs freeze well, and they may be used at a later time like fresh fruit. The fresh bulbs are excellent dried or preserved in syrup. Traditionally, bulbs are used in fruit salads and soups, boiled with rice or coconut milk and are often served with fish.
The seeds may be prepared in several ways. One way is to boil them for five minutes and then roast the seeds in a heavy frying pan with a little oil. Similar results are obtained if they are cooked in a microwave oven. Use a low setting and enclose the seeds in a paper bag since they tend to explode. The seeds are best when roasted in the coa1s of a burned down fire.
The seeds are edible and nutritious. They contain 38% carbohydrates, 6.6% proteins and 0.4% fats.
Jackfruit Casserole (serves 4)
Preheat oven to 450°F. In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Blend in mayonnaise and cream of mushroom soup. Stir in cheese, minced onion and jackfruit. Turn into a 2 quart casserole. Bake for 45 minutes.
Jackfruit Salad (Serves 4)
In a large mixing bowl, combine jackfruit, limejuice, coconut, raisins and sour cream. If, after combining all ingredients, you feel mixture needs more of one above item, slowly add according to your taste. Add and mix in toasted walnuts just before serving.
NOTE: Place walnuts on a cookie sheet, single layer, and toast 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 300-degree oven. Turn walnuts over after 4 or 5 minutes.
Jackfruit Patties (serves 8)
Mix jackfruit and whipping cream. Beat eggs. Gradually beat in flour. Mix in sugar, salt scallions and onions. Stir in jackfruit mixture. Mix well. Shape into patties. Fry in hot oil, browning on each side.
Jackfruit Compote on the Light Side
Place the sugar and water in pot over medium heat to melt the sugar. Add all the other ingredients in the order shown. Cook until the jackfruit is soft, about ten minutes.