I am not a vegetarian (currently), but today I woke up, completely “meated out”. Sick of my same old chicken, turkey, beef dinners. Then I decided today, I am going to cook and eat jackfruit. We have a jackfruit tree that is already fruiting on our young exotic and tropical fruit farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. Unfortunately, the variety, Ziman Pink is extremely prone to “rust” or browning and rotting out before they are completely ripe. We are contemplating cutting the tree down, but then we realized if we just get into the flow of cooking green jackfruit (before they get the rust), maybe we can keep the tree for a few more years while our superior varieties of jackfruit trees we have planted mature to fruiting age. Follow this link for a broad article I wrote about jackfruit.
I made jackfruit curry once before with my brother, almost 7 years back. We picked a jackfruit out of the Napali Coast trail on Kauai and checked it in our luggage (actually a cooler) back to Honolulu. Impatient for it to ripen, and hearing about jackfruit curry we decided to give it a try. I don’t remember much, but I do remember it was a messy pain in the butt to cut open and it was DELICIOUS, textureful experience. Since then Jackfruit has popped up all over the web, trendy cafes, health food stores. You can find it canned in asian grocery stores or in “international aisles” in major supermarkets. The canned versions come either syrup (ripened sweet jackfruit) or in water or brine (green jackfruit). After my experiment today, I understand why even adventurous home cooks prefer to buy it canned.
You will need a pressure cooker to follow these directions. I highly recommend this simple pressure cooker; Presto -01370 8 Quart Stainless Steel
Or alternatively you could use your smaller Insta Pot.
I searched the internet this morning trying to remind myself how to cook and eat jackfruit when it is green to use in recipes. I found some information (which I follow and describe in my next section), but I found it…lets say lacking in essential in tips and pointers.
tips before you cook jackfruit:
- From harvest to cooking wear a shirt and shorts you absolutely don’t care about – many parts of you will get sticky with virtually non-removable sap during the process.
- Don’t harvest jackfruit with your favorite knife, blade, machete, it will just be another tool to thoroughly clean of latex/sap that comes from the stem and core of the jackfruit. You can snap off the stem near the top of the fruit. It will sap! Put it down on the ground and let it drip the latex for a few moments. Don’t hold it close to your body, arms, etc. Don’t put it in your car, or wheelbarrow.
- Before you cook jackfruit, definitely lay down newspaper, flat cardboard, thickly layered scrap paper etc on a large cutting surface (skip cutting board and go straight to thoroughly (news)paper lined countertop.
- Thoroughly oil your sharp knife, your hands and have (rubbing) alcohol, dish soap and a steel dish scrubber on hand.
- Be very careful with your slippy hands and knife while you cut (and wrestle) the jackfruit, getting through the center core is the hardest. I had to hug my jackfruit while I firmly cut into it, getting latex all over my shirt.
- Cleaning tips! Use a combination of alcohol, oil, dish soap and water and keep trying until it is not sticky any more.
How to cook jackfruit for use in recipes:
- Harvest or buy a green jackfruit (not ripe – no sweet smell, not hollow when tapped, doesn’t give to pressure of your thumb.
- Set up your station
- Lay out newspaper, flat cardboard, thickly layered scrap paper on countertop.
- Get out a cooking oil (cheapest you have since you won’t be eating it) for oiling knife, hands and cleaning.
- Oil your sharpest biggest knife (cutting through center) and a smaller knife with serrated edges (for cutting out inner core)
- Get your cooking station set up….either:
- a pot or two of water boiling. Add a splash of oil to the water to discourage the latex from sticking. (approx 45 minute cook time)
- use a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker is supposed to take less time over all (10 minutes) of actual cooking – but this time doesn’t include time getting it to pressure (5 minutes) and letting it naturally cool down and release pressure (10 minutes).
Today I tried both methods. I think in the future I would probably just keep it simple and boil the jackfruit. The pressure cooker took a long time to heat up, and release steam. My end result was actually pink (remember the variety of Jackfruit I used was Ziman Pink), not sure if it is due to the variety or to other compounds being released under pressure cooking.
5. Start making the cut. Go slow, make firm cuts, hold the jackfruit to keep it steady as you break through the toughest part, the core. Cut either lengthwise (or the other way) which ever is safest for your oily hands and knife.
6. Cut out the “pithy” core. This is the part I did with a small serrated knife. It is kind of like carving Jack-o-lantern, but harder, slipperier, and stickier. Leave the skin on and the seeds in.
7. Drop in pot either pressure cook or boil about 45 minutes for boiling in a regular pot, about 10 minutes from when pressure is reached in your pressure cooker.
8. Once it has cooled, strain, peel skin, discard or save seeds and their outer coating (for other recipes), and set aside edible jackfruit portions for use in meals.
9. Once cool you can freeze for a few months for future use.
For more info on Jackfruit…
If you live in a tropical location and are looking for more information on cooking those “difficult” but highly abundant foods, you may like my article on how to cook Kalo/Taro.
Here are several site with ideas on how to use and eat jackfruit: