Curious Cook: Jackfruit of all trades… and a little durian on the side

I’m now again within the UK for a brief go to and was pleasantly shocked to be told by my daughter that sure well-liked objects in Malaysia are actually huge hits right here.

For a begin, a quarter-pound burger made with jackfruit has been voted because the “Greatest Vegan Grocery store Burger” within the nation. And laksa eating places are opening up quicker than UK politicians can lie about Brexit (extra with regards to London laksa one other time).

It was stunning to see jackfruit so well-liked right here because it was in all probability the very last thing I had anticipated. So out of curiosity, I believed it’s price investigating.


Beginning with its origin, there have been claims that the jackfruit tree (often known as Artocarpus heterophyllus) originated in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, however the actuality is that it’s more likely to be a local plant from the Western Ghats of India.

There may be proof that the jackfruit was cultivated in India between 3,000 to six,000 years in the past. The plant has now migrated to different tropical areas in Africa, South America,

and islands just like the Philippines.

The title jackfruit was in all probability derived from the Portuguese jaca, which in flip was prone to be a bastardisation of the unique Indian title chakka pazham. In Bangladesh, it’s the nationwide fruit and often known as kathal. The Thais name it kanun, and Malaysians consult with it as nangka.


The jackfruit is assumed to have originated within the Western Ghats of India.

Artocarpus heterophyllus is a part of the Moraceae household of fruit-bearing bushes, which suggests the jackfruit is said to fig and mulberry bushes.

Nonetheless, jackfruits are by far the most important tree-borne fruits on the earth, typically exceeding 30kg in weight. The Guinness World of Data lists the most important validated jackfruit to be 42.72kg with a circumference of 132cm, although there are unverified claims of jackfruits weighing over 50kg.

Jackfruit bushes normally require 5 to seven years earlier than producing its first harvest. However as soon as it begins producing fruit, the output is prodigious, between 10 to 200 fruits per tree per yr – round 25.71 tonnes per hectare.

The interior construction of the jackfruit itself is quite curious as it’s labeled as a “dicotyledonous compound fruit”. It’s because the fruit is a bundled assortment of ovaries of a number of flowers glued collectively by a powerful latex adhesive secreted by laticiferous cells alongside the axis and core of the fruit.

The “flesh” of the jackfruit is definitely the ovary casings surrounding the seeds. The feel of jackfruit flesh tends to be agency, crunchy, and generally just a little stringy, although an over-ripe jackfruit can flip quite mushy.

Round 30% of a jackfruit by weight is the edible flesh, and jackfruits should be harvested by hand earlier than they fall off by themselves as they might be rotten if left hanging too lengthy on the tree.

The seeds of the jackfruit ought to by no means be eaten uncooked as they comprise enzyme and mineral absorption inhibitors, which stop the uptake of varied minerals by the physique. Nonetheless, after boiling for round 40-45 minutes, these inhibitors are destroyed or deactivated. I at all times keep in mind how scrumptious boiled jackfruit seeds had been when my mom ready them.

These days, plainly they may also be roasted or baked (200ºC for 25-30 minutes till brown and toasted), although I’ve by no means tried it myself. The seeds are additionally processed or cooked, after which floor into flour.

Be aware the rind and the fibrous laticiferous cells alongside the axis and core of the fruit are not edible as they’re indigestible and will induce abdomen cramps.

Jackfruit as a contemporary meals

The jackfruit can be utilized instead of meat to enrich different elements. This is a jackfruit prawn curry. Filepic

What makes jackfruit fascinating as a contemporary meals is its dietary content material and strange texture, which is especially fascinating for creating meat substitutes. For such meat substitutes, the unripe jackfruit is used as it’s much less candy and has much less of its distinctive aroma.

The feel of chopped and cooked unripe jackfruit resembles intently the feel of meat, particularly pork, and mixing it with umami flavour components and extra filler elements leads to extremely acceptable meat substitutes.

Jackfruit is used to make a really convincing substitute for pulled pork, which is strikingly usable in dishes and sandwiches or burgers; that is gaining recognition within the West. However for Asians, the jackfruit is already used extensively in curries and stir fries, particularly in India.

Mature jackfruit could be included or made into numerous sorts of salads, desserts, ice lotions, and dessicated or dehydrated into crisps.

The low protein and fats content material of jackfruit is right for individuals who need a more healthy weight loss program, significantly if its different dietary components are thought-about. The jackfruit accommodates vital quantities of ascorbic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid, magnesium and phosphorus.

It accommodates an unusually vast spectrum of amino acids resembling tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, valine and histidine, that are essential for wholesome physique capabilities.

In abstract, there seems to be only a few disadvantages of utilizing the jackfruit as a contemporary meals and a whole lot of plain benefits. So this can be one other impetus to the adoption of contemporary meals made with pure elements such because the jackfruit.

To grasp what trendy meals are, go learn A Trendy Meals Story – Half 3.

Confusion with the durian

Within the West, the jackfruit is commonly mistaken for durian as a result of each have considerably comparable exteriors. Filepic

Within the West, many individuals nonetheless confuse the jackfruit with durian. This can be as a result of they each seem like huge, spiky, inexperienced fruits from a distance. However the extra discerning will realise their mistake as soon as they get shut sufficient to scent the fruits.

The jackfruit has a candy aroma, a mixture of bubble gum with a touch of fish sauce, whereas durian tends to evoke the full-on disgust response when encountering a bucket of rotten fruit blended with canine poo.

Anthony Bourdain as soon as stated the aroma of durian is “indescribable, one thing you’ll both love or despise. Your breath will scent as should you’d been French-kissing your lifeless grandmother.”

Nonetheless, I admit that durian remains to be my all-time favorite fruit and my abiding remorse is that solely frozen, odourless Thai durians can be found in Europe. They’re vile and tasteless in comparison with the Musang King, Crimson Prawn, D101 and D24 varieties accessible in Kuala Lumpur after I was working there.

Nonetheless, it’s curious why durians invoke such sturdy reactions in novices. I got here throughout a 2012 German Analysis Centre for Meals Chemistry examine right into a durian species typically grown in Thailand known as Durio zibethinus (or Monthong) the place they carried out an aroma extract dilution evaluation.

Within the fruit, they discovered 44 lively odorants together with some extremely lively compounds (with a sign of the aroma of every): hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg), acetaldehyde (sickly fruity), methanethiol (rotten cabbage), ethanethiol (rotten onion), 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol (skunky) and propane-1-thiol (an indescribable rotten stink).

Curiously, three advanced compounds which had been utterly unknown to chemists beforehand had been present in durian: 1-(propylsulfanyl)ethanethiol, 1-[1-(methylsulfanyl)ethyl]-sulfanylethanethiol, and 1-[1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethyl]sulfanylethanethiol.

However in addition they discovered different enticing odorants resembling ethyl (2S)-2-methylbutanoate (fruity), ethyl cinnamate (honey), 1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethanethiol (roasted onion), 2(5)-ethyl-4-hydroxy-5(2)-methylfuran-3(2H)-one (caramel), ethyl 2-methylpropanoate (fruity), ethyl butanoate (fruity), 1-(methylsulfanyl)-ethanethiol (roasted onion), 1-(ethylsulfanyl)propane-1-thiol (roasted onion), and so forth.

The examine concluded that the researchers didn’t know which odorants had been essentially the most disgusting to uninitiated individuals. It might be one, a number of, or it might be many compounds working together.

It doesn’t try to elucidate why many individuals really discover the aroma of the durian so enticing. Perhaps that they had misplaced curiosity by the tip, in spite of everything that smelling within the laboratory.

Anyway, there are 400 recognized species of durians and one suspects the German analysis centre will not be too eager to research the opposite 399 species.

There may be one different curiosity concerning the durian, which can validate a Malaysian outdated wives’ story. The College of Tsukuba in Japan examined the impact of durian extract on aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH), the essential enzymes concerned within the liver’s metabolism of blood alcohol.

In all probability as a result of excessive sulphur content material, the durian extract inhibited the impact of ALDH by as much as 70%, thus leaving a lot of the poisonous blood acetaldehyde unprocessed for longer within the physique. (For the gory particulars, you may consult with A treatment for hangovers.)

I as soon as had half a bottle of vodka after some durians and felt terrible the subsequent day. Till I got here throughout the analysis paper at this time, I by no means understood why. At the least, now you already know.

The views expressed listed here are solely the author’s personal.

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