Before jackfruit became the coolest kid on the vegan block, it was my best fruit friend. Growing up I loved the yellow pungent fruit and I remember that it wasn’t always as accessible as it is now. My mom used to bring home frozen packs or canned jars from the Asian market because fresh jackfruit was too expensive and uncommon in the U.S. Fortunately in the last ten years jackfruit became more available and reasonably priced, so I’ve had my fair share of the goods. Every time I visit my family in San Jose, my mom would make sure to have fresh jackfruit bought and peeled for me. I currently live in Irvine and although I don’t have mom, I can easily drive to Westminster to pick up a tray pre-peeled for $10 at any tropical fruit store. Through my 27 years of life and through the many tons of jackfruit that I ate, I never had to peel my own – I am so spoiled! TBH it’s intimidating due to the fruit’s large size and sticky nature…
Today however, I decided to face the music. I was going to peel my own jackfruit and experience the pains of my ancestors! Zion market had a sale on jackfruit that was going for $10.99 a fruit! Typically, you see it being sold per pound and my mom would usually comment about $20 jackfruits being a steal – so this sounded like a MAJOR DEAL! I had to get my hands on one and I am going to cut it up all on my own – or so I thought. Turns out when I got to the market, all the good ones were taken (go figure lol); therefore, I didn’t end up with my own fruit, but I did manage to snag a cut-up quarter that looked just right. It was $8 and compared to the $10 tray I would get in Westminster – it looked like a steal.
I haven’t experienced selecting or cutting jackfruit on my own, but I’ve learned a little from watching Mama Thieu to do some damage. Sharing with you some family secrets!
- Like most fruits, when selecting, you should follow your nose. Ripe jackfruit will emit a slightly sweet smell. Don’t pick one where the smell has taken a turn towards more pungent/rotten though!
- The spikes should be a little spread out and not all squished together.
- There will be a slight give when you press into the fruit.
- The skin should be yellowish in color and not bright green.
- If you’re picking up pre-cut slices of jackfruit, make sure the wedge you select has a lot of visible bulbs and they are deep golden yellow. Anything that is light yellow or white means that the fruit is not ripe and won’t be sweet. The bulbs should still look firm and not mushy or brown – otherwise it will be overly ripened and the texture will be soft and slimy.
I will have to do another segment when I pick up a whole fruit, but for now – here are some prepping tips and steps on how to peel a quarter of a jackfruit.
- The inside of the jackfruit is supposed to be full of sap and VERY sticky. My mom always lined up newspaper under the cutting station for easier clean up. She also wore gloves and sometimes had some neutral oil prepared to wipe on her hands/the knife in case it got too sticky.
- Setting up my station I did the same. The fruit was slightly sticky however not to the point of needing the oil. I’m not sure if this was because I bought a precut wedge that the sap might’ve dried up compared a freshly sliced whole fruit – but I am thankful it wasn’t as big a mess as I anticipated.
1. Cut the jackfruit quarter into a wedge
2. Slice away mid-section (this would be the stickiest section)
3. Find and peel off all the jackfruit bulbs.
4. Save the seeds!
5. Collect all the newspaper up and have a quick and easy clean up.
Did you know?:
- You can eat jackfruit seeds?? All you have to do is boil the seeds for 30 minutes and you’ll have a delicious snack. They’re starchy and have a similar texture to a potato or taro. They’re a little sweeter and nuttier than the vegetable. It’s super yummy but also be warned, they’re known to make people a little gassy!
- The stringy white pieces around the jackfruit bulbs can also be saved and eaten! They lack most flavor (the ones closer to the bulbs will be sweetest) but can be used in a stir-fry or salad. They can also be used to imitate pulled meats! My mom usually saves them for vegan stir-fries.
- Green jackfruit can be used for meat substitute! Tons of vegan recipes on the interwebs and the most prominent one is bbq jackfruit – in lieu of pulled pork. I also grew up eating green jackfruit salads, they’re delicious and refreshing. However – there are no protein properties in the fruit so I wouldn’t recommend replacing them for meat completely.
- TSA Approved: Although jackfruit is tsa approved, the smell is quite strong so I don’t recommend you eating it on the flight. In S.E. Asia they actually ban you from bringing jackfruit or durian on flights! I found out the hard way – at the security line in Thailand I was told I needed to throw my jackfruit tray away. Oh that was a sad day 🙁