Jackfruit is an exotic fruit loved by many. This fruit has a unique flavor, aroma, and nutrient profile. But if you haven’t experienced jackfruit, you might not know when to buy it or how to prepare it.
Depending on the region, jackfruit is available from March to June or from April to September. You’ll typically see jackfruit available from April to September in the United States. You can enjoy jackfruit raw by cutting out the membrane and seeds or in a range of cooked dishes.
Jackfruit is an excellent seasonal fruit to add to your diet. Many people use jackfruit as a meat substitute due to its high protein content, texture, and neutral flavor when unripened. Here’s everything you need to know about jackfruit, where to find it, and how to prepare it.
What Is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world; it can reach up to three feet in length and nearly two feet in width, and it can weigh over 100 pounds. It’s in the same family as breadfruit, fig, and mulberry. Jackfruit originates from the southern region of India.
Jackfruit has a spiky rind that’s green or yellow. When it’s ripe, it can produce the smell of rotten onions. However, the pulp inside often smells and tastes much better, like a cross between bananas and pineapples.
Jackfruit has only recently gained popularity in the United States, especially for use in many vegan and vegetarian preparations.
Where Does Jackfruit Grow?
Jackfruit has origins in southern India, Sri Lanka, and multiple rainforests in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. However, jackfruit grows in tropical and subtropical locations all around the world. Jackfruit is grown in places like Thailand, Africa, Brazil, Australia, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and even Florida.
Jackfruit trees aren’t typically grown in orchards like other fruit-bearing trees. Jackfruit trees are grown as roadside flora used for shade or windbreaks in their native countries.
Sometimes, jackfruit can be grown in forests or planted in woodlots. Jackfruit trees don’t require very many resources, making them a vital source of nutrition, wood, and animal fodder in their native countries.
Is Jackfruit Available Year Round?
Jackfruit is not available year round, and the season varies with the location. Depending on the region, jackfruit might be ripe from March to June or from April to September. Off-season crops might grow between September and December as well.
In the US, you might be able to find fresh jackfruit from August to September. In Florida specifically, you can find the fruit between July and October. In California, you’ll typically find Jackfruit from April to September, with the peak season around June and July.
In locations like Australia, jackfruit season depends on whether you’re in the northern or southern region. North Australia grows jackfruit from early June to late September. Northern Australia grows jackfruit between February and May.
You can expect to see jackfruit from June to July in Canada. In India, you can find jackfruit between January and August, depending on the region. In the Philippines, the best time to eat jackfruit is in July.
As you can see, the time jackfruits are in season depends greatly on the region. That said, you can always buy a dried option like the Mavuno Harvest Jackfruit Dried Fruit Snacks (on Amazon), or, in the case of jackfruit, even a canned option like the Native Forest Organic Jackfruit (also on Amazon). Canned jackfruit is used as a meat substitute by some!
What Are the Benefits of Eating Jackfruit?
There are some amazing benefits of eating jackfruit. Jackfruit has an excellent nutrient profile, containing nearly every vitamin and mineral that your body needs.
Another thing that sets jackfruit apart from other fruits is that it’s high in protein. Jackfruit offers more than three grams of protein per cup. Here are some other benefits to jackfruit:
It May Benefit Blood Sugar Control
Adding jackfruit to your diet may benefit your blood sugar management. Jackfruit has a glycemic index that’s on the low side. The low glycemic index has been attributed to the fiber it contains, which can slow digestion and reduce blood sugar spikes.
Diets that contain many low glycemic index foods have been linked to promoting better blood sugar control. Additionally, the protein found in jackfruit may also help prevent blood sugar levels from increasing too fast after a meal.
It May Protect Against Disease
Jackfruit has a large number of powerful antioxidants that can offer various health benefits, including a decreased risk of multiple diseases. Antioxidants help protect your cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative stress and inflammation typically come from free radicals.
The Vitamin C found in jackfruit may help prevent inflammation, which can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. The carotenoids in the fruit may also lower inflammation and the risk of various chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Jackfruit also contains flavanones, which have anti-inflammatory properties. The flavanones found in jackfruit may help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. These factors are crucial in decreasing the chances of type 2 diabetes and heart issues.
It May Improve Immune Health
Although more research needs to be conducted, jackfruit might improve immune health. Jackfruit contains immune-boosting vitamins, such as vitamins A and C. These vitamins may help reduce the risk of illness or reduce the chance of viral infections.
It May Prevent Skin Issues
The vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients found in jackfruit can help ward off skin issues. Vitamin C has been linked to improving skin health and helps prevent damage from the sun. Eating jackfruit may even slow the aging process of your skin.
It May Improve Heart Health
Jackfruit contains potassium, fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. The potassium found in the fruit can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Fiber is a nutrient that is renowned for increasing digestive health. Proper levels of dietary fiber can slow blood sugar response, promote bowel regularity, and increase the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
How Do You Eat Jackfruit?
Don’t feel bad If you aren’t sure how to eat jackfruit or have never tried it. Many people have never tasted this delicious fruit.
The jackfruit flavor can work well on its own or in savory dishes.
Ripe jackfruit can be enjoyed raw and has a taste similar to mangos, bananas, and pineapples. Unripe jackfruit has a neutral flavor that makes it excellent for soaking up seasonings and spices.
Jackfruit has a sticky sap that makes it difficult to peel. Rub jackfruit with cooking oil before you slice it open to prevent it from gumming up your knife.
You’ll need to separate the fleshy bulbs from the tough strips of the membrane. The membrane is inedible. You’ll also need to remove the seeds from the flesh.
You can eat jackfruit before it’s fully ripe by cutting it into chunks and boiling them in salted water until they’re tender. You can also roast or boil the seeds for a light snack.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to enjoy jackfruit, you can find canned or ready-to-eat preparations at the store.
You can season jackfruit with barbeque, teriyaki, or other sauces. Some people love to use jackfruit as a meat substitute due to its high protein content and texture.