The Jackfruit tree is an evergreen tree belonging to Moraceae family and the botanical name is Artocarpus heterophyllus. Jackfruit is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been cultivated in India 6000 years ago.
The name of the fruit originated from the Malayalam work “Jakka”, the Portuguese used this and appended the word fruit to it, so it was Jakkafruit and now it is known as Jackfruit. In Hindi it is known as Kathal and in Kannada as Halasina Hannu.
Jackfruit is the largest fruit grown on earth. It can weigh up to 36 Kgs, and grow up to 37 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. Many varieties of jackfruits are cultivated and the tree grows to a height of 70 feet. White latex is derived from all parts of the tree.The leaves are dark green, thick with rounded ends and grow in close clusters at the end of the branches. The leaves are used as a wrapping for steamed idlis.
The flowers of this tree are unique. The male and the female flowers bloom in separate flower heads during February and March on the trunk and large branches. The flowers are hand-pollinated for good yield.
Jackfruit has thick wall with thorny exterior. Inside there are many seeds or bulbs, with a fleshy cover.
These fleshy seeds are surrounded by fibrous ribbons.
Each of these bulbs can be cut and eaten or cooked. The flavor and smell are very unique to this fruit.
The seeds of the fruit are smooth, oval, brown seed covered by a thin grey skin. The seeds are 2 to 4 cm long and 0.5 inch thick. The seeds when cooked are eaten as a snack.
Jackfruit is power house of Vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Sodium, and many added feature of nutrients. High level of Potassium in the fruit lowers blood pressure. Extracts from the roots are used to cure fever, diarrhea, asthma, and skin problems. The daily dose of dietary fiber can be met by consuming Jackfruit.
Uses in cookery
Jackfruit can be eaten raw when ripe and cooked when raw. Ripe, raw jackfruit and its seeds are used to prepare many dishes in India and South East Asia.
The leaves of the trees are used as food wrappers in cooking and the leaves are fastened together to make disposal plates. Tender Jackfruit leaves and young male flower clusters are cooked and served as vegetables.
Following are some of the recipes using Jackfruit:
- Chips / Halsinakayi Sonte
- Kathal Ki Biryani
- Ripe Jackfruit Dosa / Halasina hannina Dosa
- Raw Jackfruit Dosa / Halasinakayi Dosa
- Halasinabeejada Chutney
- Halisinakayi Huli
- Kathal Ki Sabzi
- Halasinakayi Palya
- Halasinabeejada Masala Vada
- Halasinabeejada Huli
- Jackfruit Ice-Cream
- Halasinahannina Payasa – Jackfruit Payasa
All the other parts of the Jackfruit tree are useful. The wood of the tree is termite proof and hence used to make musical instruments, boat, furniture, and building construction.
Young leaves are fed to cattle and other livestock. Roots of old trees are used for carving and making picture frames. In the coastal regions, dried branches are used to produce fire by friction in religious ceremonies.
Propagation of Jackfruit trees is by seeds. Soak seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing. The seeds will germinate in 3 to 8 weeks. The tree flourishes in humid tropical weather in rich and sandy soil. Protect young plantings from sun scald and from grazing animals. Fruits mature within 3 to 8 months from flowering. Shield the young fruits by covering them with paper sacks.