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Is Chempedak (Artocarpus integer) even better than jackfruit?

Latin name and family:

Chempedak, cempedak is Artocarpus Integer and has many synonyms: (syn.: Artocarpus champeden, Artocarpus integrifolius). It is in the Moraceae family, which also belong to our friends Breadfruit, Breadnut, add more here.

It seems like in English we have a hard time deciding what to call it and how to spell it. Here’s a few similar spellings: Chempedak, Cempedak, Campedak, Champedak, Artocarpus champeden, Chempedak Utan, tjampedak.

  • Indonesia: chempedak, campedak (Malay), baroh (Lingga).
  • Malaysia: chempedak (cultivated), bankong (wild), baroh (Johor).
  • Burma: sonekadat
    Thailand: champada.

Characteristics of the fruit:

Chempedak looks like jackfruit but it has less spiky smoother skin and it is more cylindrical. The fruits may vary in skin color from green when they are young to yellow or orange as they mature. There are little hexagonal patterns in the small protrusions. The flesh casing (aril) is similar to jackfruit. There is a reddish or yellowish fleshy pod that surrounds each large seed. There may be anywhere from 15-400 seeds depending on the specific cultivar (PROSEA, 2016) .

Unlike, jackfruit the flesh is softer. However, the Cheena (Jackfruit x Champadek) is crunchier. The Cheena is the most widely known cross between a jackfruit and a champedak and has smaller fruits than their parents with a pleasant flavor. The fruit can measure up to 1 and ½ feet (45 cm) long and can weigh as much as 13.3 pounds (6 kg). Its fruity flesh is covered in a green, yellow or orange brown skin that smoother than a jackfruit.

How to use chempedak fruit

The flavor is complex. My husband describes it as having a taste similar to mango or durian. Other accounts compare it to banana, pineapple,  honey and nectar. Compared to jackfruit, the chempedak is sweeter. When they are ripe they are more aromatic than jackfruit, and almost as aromatic as durian.

Chempedak used as a vegetable

Like the jackfruit, chempedak can be harvested green or immature and used as a cooked vegetable. It should be treated similarly to jackfruit. It is a little bit of work to cut open the fruit and separate the flesh but it is well worth it for culinary diversity. Here is an article I wrote on how to use green jackfruit from the tree to the veggie dish. 

Alternatively, the fuzzy or hairy leaves are also used in cooking.  Traditionally, the fuzzy leaves were used as a meat tenderizer (Z. Siti Balqis & A Rosma, 2011). And other accounts report the use of their immature leaves as a green in cooking.

Chempedek seeds

The artocarpus integer seeds make up almost 20% of the fresh fruit weight, so luckily they are edible!  Another plus is that Chempedak seeds are easier to process than jackfruit because their seed coat is thinner and digestible. The seeds are starchy and taste somewhat nutty. They can can be cooked, dried and turned into flour which can be a nutritious additive or partial flour replacement (Aziah et. al 2011). Or you can boiled them  (think fingerling potatoes) smoother them in a tasty sauce. In the past I have make veggie burgers out of jackfruit seeds.

Chempedak has many culinary applications. It is eaten fresh when it is ripe, fried with flour to make fritters. It can also be made into a pudding.

Harvesting & Storage

The fruit can mature in 3 months or more. You’ll want to harvest ripe fruit when you see changes in the skin color and when the stem starts to yellow. The stem should also break easily. After harvest they may be further ripened. If you store in a cool place you will extend the shelf life.

Artocarpus integer

If you are harvesting the chempedak ripe, then there should be no latex in the skin. However, if you are harvesting it green for use as a vegetable in cooking, you should try mess-preventative methods like jackfruit.

In most cases the harvesting season lasts about 6 weeks and closer to the Equator you may see two seasons.

Other uses:

Artocarpus integer is cultivated for fruit especially in Jamaica and Kenya. But it has several other uses, most notably as lumber. It’s wood is strong as teak, and suitable for some construction projects. Ropes can be made from the bark. And the yellow extract of the heartwood can be used in coloring dyes, most notably for clothes. It is also good for firewood because it has moisture-free hardwood.

Growing information

It is native to Southeast Asia and thrives in the lowland, humid tropics. It is a fast growing evergreen tree that can reach up to 80 feet tall (24 meters).

This tree can will do well at elevations up to 1,500 feet (450 meters) but have a harder time in elevations between 1,500 feet and 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).

The trees are monoecious (they have both male and female flowers). There is some scientific certainty that they are pollinated by gall midges that feed on fungus present on the male flowers (Sakia et al. 2000). But,  Orwa C et al. (2009) more broadly report that insects visit the male flowers in the night.

Growing tips for Artocarpus integer:

Once the tree is a few feet tall make sure it gets plenty of sun. Consider support plants like gliricidia which will provide some shade at first and then can be cut back as the chempedak tree matures. Gliricidia will also feeds the young tree with nitrogen.

These are not drought tolerant trees. They need consistent rainfall throughout the year, with at least a minimum mean rainfall of 50 inches (1,270 mm). Otherwise, regular irrigation is recommended.

Cempedak seeds are recalcitrant and should be planted from fully mature fruits and sown as soon as possible. Recorded germination rates are around 75%. Seedlings start bearing fruit after 3-6 years. rafting is a common technique for chempedak and will result in smaller trees and fruit set in 2-4 years. The seeds are relatively true to their parents so less cultivated varieties exist than other exotic fruits. Usually scionwood is gathered from reliable parent trees in the local area.

It is also possible to graft champadek on to jackfruit rootstock, possibly providing a hardier plant. Scion wood should mature but relative in size to the rootstock. Clefts grafts onto young rootstock seedlings (3-5 weeks). Grafted plants will needs a humidity bag and shade for the first several weeks.

In most cases the tree bears most of its fruit on the large branches and trunk. These are large trees and some farmers recommend pruning for ease of harvest. This is best done during wet warm seasons.

They are prone to Rhizopus rot like jackfruit. Prune trees to keep them well venitaled, do not allow water to pool and make sure you remove diseased fruits from the tree and surrounding area as the fungus will persist and re-infest the developing fruits.

Resources:

P.C.M. Jansen. Artocarpus integer (PROSEA). (2016, May 12). PlantUse English, . Retrieved 04:51, February 4, 2019 from https://uses.plantnet-project.org/e/index.php?title=Artocarpus_integer_(PROSEA)&oldid=222495.

Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. 2009 Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 (http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sites/treedbs/treedatabases.asp).

Sakai, S. , Kato, M. and Nagamasu, H. (2000), Artocarpus (Moraceae)–gall midge pollination mutualism mediated by a male‐flower parasitic fungus . Am. J. Bot., 87: 440-445. doi:10.2307/2656640

Mônica M. de Almeida Lopes, Kellina O. de Souza, Ebenezer de Oliveira Silva,
Cempedak—Artocarpus champeden, Exotic Fruits, Academic Press, 2018, Pages 121-127, ISBN 9780128031384, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-803138-4.00017-4.

Z. Siti Balqis, A. Rosma, Artocarpus integer leaf protease: Purification and characterisation, Food Chemistry, Volume 129, Issue 4, 2011, Pages 1523-1529,
ISSN 0308-8146,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.05.135.
(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814611008387)

Noor Aziah, Abdul Aziz, Mardiana Ahamad Zabidi, Flour and Breads and their Fortification in Health and Disease Prevention, Chapter 33 – Partial Substitution of Wheat Flour with Chempedak (Artocarpus integer) Seed Flour in Bread, Academic Press, 2011, Pages 365-374, ISBN 9780123808868,
https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-380886-8.10033-9.

David K. Chandlee. February 2006. Sub-Tropical Fruit Club of Qld Inc. http://stfc.org.au/chempedak-artocarpus-integer

Rhizopus Rot of Jackfruit. Scot Nelson CTAhR. Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences. Plant Disease July 2005 PD- 29 https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-29.pdf

Practical tips growing Cempedak. Tropical Fruit Forum. http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=2432.0. Accessed on Feb 3rd 2019.

Exotic Fruit: Southeast Asian Cempedak
By Mark Wiens. https://migrationology.com/exotic-fruit-southeast-asian-cempedak/    Accessed on Feb 3rd 2019.

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