The jackfruit tree is believed to be indigenous to the southwestern rain forests of India. It is widely cultivated in the tropical regions of Indian subcontinent, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil for its fruit, seeds and wood. The tree grows best under tropical humid and rainy regions but rarely survives cold and frosty conditions, grows to as high as 30 meters, higher than the mango tree.
During the season, each tree bears as many as 250 large fruits, supposed to be the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. The fruit varies widely in size, weigh from 3 to 30 kg and has oblong or round shape measuring 10 cm to 60 cm in length, 25 to 75 cm in diameter. The unripe fruits are green in color; When ripen, might turn to light brown color and gives pungent smell.
As in durian fruit, its outer surface is covered with blunt thorn like projections, which become soft in ripened fruit. The interior consists of orange-yellow colored edible bulbs. Each bulb consists of sweet flavored sheaths that enclose a smooth, oval, light-brown color seed.Jack fruit seed is 2 to 4 cm long and 1 to 3 cm thick and is white and crisp within. There may be as many as 100 to 500 edible bulbs embedded in a single fruit interspersed between thin bands of fibers. Almost all the parts of the tree gives white sticky latex like juice when injured.
Health benefits of jackfruit
- The fruit is made of soft, easily digestible flesh (bulbs) with simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly.
- Jack-fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which makes it a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon.
- Fresh fruit has small amounts of vitamin-A and flavonoid pigments such as carotene-ß, xanthin, lutein and cryproxanthin-ß. Together, these compounds play vital roles in antioxidant and vision functions. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining integrity of mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin-A and carotenes has been found to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Jack fruit is also good source of antioxidant vitamin-C; provides about 13.7 mg or 23% of RDA. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
- It is one of the rare fruits that is rich in B-complex group of vitamins. It contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), niacin, riboflavin and folic acid.
- Fresh fruit is a good source of potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Jack fruit seeds are indeed very rich in protein and nutritious. In general, the seeds are gathered from ripe fruit, sun dried and stored for use in rainy season in many parts of South Indian states. Different variety of recipes prepared in Southern India where they are eaten either by roasting as a snack or added to curries in place of lentils.
Here are some serving tips:
- Jack-fruit bulbs are unique in flavor and taste; should be eaten as they are to experience richness.
- Jackfruit slices, grated coconut, honey and banana slices mixed and enjoyed in one of the wonderfully delicious preparation commonly served in southern India.
- The fruit is also used in jam, jelly and dessert preparations.
- Fruit slices are a great addition to fruit salad.
- Jackfruit seeds are good source of protein and minerals; used like vegetables and pulses in curry preparation in several Asian countries.
- Unripe jack fruit is used like vegetable in the preparation known as "kathal sabzee" in some north Indian states.