Strange Fruit pt. 5: Jackfruit

Monstrous Jackfruits, known as <em>nangka</em>
Monstrous Jackfruits, known as nangka

In Michigan, where I’m from, we have large fruit; watermelons and pumpkins for example can reach great size. Sensibly, these fruits grow on trailing vines, right on the ground. But imagine a fruit that size that grows suspended from a tree! Aiee! Maybe it’s called Jackfruit because it will jack you up if it lands on you. Actually, the cultivated trees are not that tall, only a few meters, so we’re not really talking Durian kill-factor here. Still, seeing something that size just sprouting out the side of a tree is very odd, like a tumor or something. That’s my six-month-old there in the background, for scale.

Jackfruit is nangka in Malay, Artocarpus heterophyllus botanically. It is in the same family and genus as the previously mentioned Terap and the Cempedak. Underneath the green warty skin is a great mass of fleshy, sticky yellow fibers surrounding a dozen or two fruits surrounding large smooth seeds not unlike avacado seeds. The fruits themselves are also yellow, sticky and somewhat sweet. I’d have given you pictures, but Good Lord, one of those monsters can set you back 30 or 40RM! So instead here is a website with lovely photos.

Update: Now we have pictures!
Update: Now we have pictures!
Close-up of Jackfruit rind
Close-up of Jackfruit rind

The flavor is not particularly pronounced. Maybe for this reason it is frequently used like a vegetable in cooking. Often it is cooked together with coconut heart, umbut, in a coconut milk sauce.

The pictures you see were taken at the wonderful Ming Kiong Gardens on Airport Road. The place is a little pricey but they grow superior fruit from hybrid and improved varieties. You can be sure you’ll get a tasty orchard fruit, not some wild-gathered thing. They carry their own variety of golden mango that is available nowhere else. They also have a Jackfruit-Chempadak hybrid called nan-chem that is better than both mother fruits, in my opinion. It is more like cempadak in flavor but less gassy, and more like nangka in texture.


6 thoughts on “Strange Fruit pt. 5: Jackfruit

  1. judging by the photos accompanying this post, your comment, “Maybe it’s called Jackfruit because it will jack you up if it lands on you” looks pretty true to me. wow, the sheer size of this fruit is just mind-boggling.

    and i know i need to get some sleep because i read the last line of your first paragraph as, “That’s my six-month-old there in the background, for SALE.” i had to blink and re-read a few times before my brain processed it. mass confusion… 🙂

  2. for SALE
    Haha! The closest I’ve come to selling Zahidah is when we weighed her on the corner store’s vegetable scale. We don’t have a bathroom scale, so it seemed like the most convenient method. Got a few looks though…

  3. I was munching a dried cempedak Mak sent me a week before puasa while reading your strange fruit 5 article. I’ve been munching it everyday since I got it. I have a handful left which I’m going to add to bubur cha cha for tomorrow buka puasa.

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