You Donâ€™t Know Jackfruit
Avocados, jackfruit, soursop, breadfruit, Meyer lemons, cilantro, basil, parsley, Indian curry leaf, spring onions, lettuce, kale, collard greens, carrots, eggplant, beets and fennel.
Jackfruit is a member of the mulberry family and believed to be indigenous to the southwestern rain forests of India. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh. Fruit can reach 80 pounds, making it the largest tree-born fruit.
“There’s no way to describe the flavor,” says John, who grows on 20 acres using organic techniques. “The closest thing I can say is it’s like honey and bubble gum.”
Jackfruit harvest begins in August and runs through November.
What to look for:
Young jackfruit are smaller, and hard. The interior is less sweet and slightly crunchy. Tree ripe jackfruit, the only kind the Wootens sell, are soft and sweet. Government regulations prohibit farmers from cutting jackfruit at the market, making it mandatory to buy them whole.
The pods and seeds of ripe jackfruit are the only edible parts. Ripe jackfruit will stay refrigerated for a week, but be forewarned, it will smell up the fridge. Pods freeze well for several months, but remove the seeds first. It’s best to prep young jackfruit and store in refrigerator.
“They are very sticky,” says John. “I use vegetable oil to clean my hands afterwards because it won’t come off with soap.” Nandi prefers to oil her hands and knife blade before pulling pods and seeds from the fruit.
Within the jackfruit are pale, fibrous bands holding bright yellow pods. Remove the pods, then remove the seeds from the pods. The seeds have a nutty flavor and are starchy like a potato. Boil seeds in salted water for up to an hour, until the skin cracks open, and eat or add to salads.
Ripe jackfruit is eaten raw, as a dessert.
“They’re a treat by themselves,” says John. The purÃ©ed pods are excellent in custards, cakes and ice cream; dehydrate whole pods, or purÃ©e and make into fruit leather.
Young jackfruit should be peeled, seeded, cubed and cooked. It has a mild flavor and distinctive poultry-like texture, making it great for vegetable patties. In Sri Lanka, it’s made into complex curries. Eating too much raw, young jackfruit will give you a tummy ache.
Jackfruit has 40 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, is high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in protein, and is also a good source of Vitamin C and Manganese.
Wootens Produce of Kauai can be found at:
Grocery: Vim and Vigor, Papaya’s Natural Foods and Cafe, Hoku Foods Natural Market, Harvest Market. Farmers Market: Kapa`a Wednesdays at 3 p.m.
Restaurants: BarAcuda, Kintaro, Kauai Grill, Postcards Cafe, The Tavern, Lilikoi Lunch Wagon, Moloa`a Fruit Stand, Coconut Cup, Oasis on the Beach, Red Salt, 22 North, Merriman’s, Roy’s, Josselin’s, and local produce distributor, Cultivate Kauai.
The Wootens offer cus- tom orders; call 823-6807 for details.
The combination of purÃ©ed jackfruit and milk make a frothy shake. Rich and sweet, it’s a nourishing afterschool snack or light breakfast. I like to use frozen pods, so the shake is cold and thick.
5 ripe jackfruit pods, seeded
2 cups of milk
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons honey
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.