There is a nursery rhyme that goes something like this
‘I’m the biggest fruit that grows on a tree,As sweet and aromatic as it can be.I hang from trunks and branches high and low,In hot and humid climate I grow.’
‘I‘ve a green skin that’s spiked, thick and leathery,My sweet, yellow pulp is crisp or rubbery,My seeds when cooked and peeled make a great meal,Cattle are fed with my peel.’
At the end the poem asks who am I and the children chorus Jackfruit.
Not many might agree with this version of the poem especially the words ‘sweet and aromatic’. I have often met people on my heritage walks who have complained that it is stinky and they diplomatically mention that it is an acquired taste, while I politely say it is delicious. After all I have been brought up eating Jackfruit Idlis,dosas, the fruits, seed not to mention umpteen desserts made out of the fruit pulp. So no complaints from this coastal girl.
The scientific name-Artocarpus heterophyllus , it grows quite comfortably in countries such as India,Burma,Srilanka,South China etc. Efforts to grow it in varied climates such as America has not been a success . The English name Jackfruit perhaps was given by Portuguese in the country who came in contact with Goans who fondly called the fruit chakko. Chakko over time became Jack? Perhaps. The Wikipedia however mentions that it was derived from word Chakka- a Malayalam word, due to the Portuguese settling down in the Malabar Coast.
Almost all of its parts get used. The wood is used to make doors, musical instruments. Seeds, fruits and even raw jack fruit is used in different cuisines, the flesh and pulp is eaten by cattle, the sticky white gum that arises out when the fruit is being separated out is used to join broken pots and ceramic…. The list is endless..
But this post is about a couple of interesting facts about Jackfruit. So here goes.
Seven interesting facts about Jackfruit
- Jackfruit is a very ancient heritage tree of India. It has been found residing in this country for more than 1000 years. Ramayana -the ancient mythological story mentions the existence of Jackfruit tree along with couple of others like Mango and Banyan.
- Jackfruit in Jamaica owes a big thanks to smugglers. A French ship bound to Martinique in 1782 was captured and taken to Jamaica. Along with other goods, this ship had Jackfruit saplings too. And thus it got introduced in this place where it now flourishes.
- The leaves of Jackfruit is used to steam Idli. The leaves are picked, washed, wiped clean and then stitched together to form a cup or container. The Idli batter is then poured inside and then steamed. The smell of Jackfruit leaves gives a different flavor to the otherwise routine rice Idli.
- Buddhist monks used to dye their robes with the wood of Jackfruit tree. A dark yellow or brownish yellow color was extracted from the wood and used to dye the robes. The color is also used in dyeing silk sarees. Nowadays the traditional method of extracting color has been replaced with synthetic dyes.
- Percussion instruments are generally made from Jack fruit tree. The tone obtained from this is special and suited for creating instruments such as Veena, Tabla etc.
- Jackfruit is used in medicinal purposes too. Suffering from constipation?Eat the ripe fruits of Jackfruit. Wish for a healthy heart? Roast or boil the seeds of Jackfruit and have it in your meals.
You can store the seeds by boiling them in salt, then drying them under the sun, finally sealing them in an air tight container.
- You can make more than 100 dishes with Jackfruit. The fruits, seeds and even raw jackfruit generously finds itself in a host of dishes ranging from breakfast items, soups,curries,salads to desserts.Instant dishes are prepared as well. The fruits are deseeded, seeds sun dried and powdered. The powder is then mixed with rice flour to make dosas[pancake]