Updated: Sep 5
When it comes to exotic fruits, few can rival the magnificence and versatility of the jackfruit. With its impressive size, unique appearance, and a taste that ranges from savory to sweet, this tropical wonder has been captivating taste buds and gaining popularity across in Vietnam and the globe. In this article, Agroviet will take a journey of discovery to understand what makes the jackfruit so fascinating, where it originated, its rich history, and how it has evolved to become a beloved ingredient in kitchens worldwide.
What is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit, scientifically known as Artocarpus Heterophyllus, is a large tropical fruit native to the rainforests of South and Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Moraceae family and is related to figs, mulberries, and breadfruit. This intriguing fruit has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its unique characteristics and versatile uses.
Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, with some specimens weighing up to 80 pounds. The fruit is covered with a spiky, green, and bumpy rind when unripe, which turns yellow and softens as it ripens. Inside, jackfruit is composed of numerous fleshy, edible bulbs called arils, which surround large seeds. The taste of jackfruit can vary depending on its ripeness, ranging from neutral and starchy when unripe to sweet and tropical when fully ripe.
Jackfruit is not only eaten when ripe, but it is also used in various food processing methods such as drying, making candy, beverages, and cooking. Therefore, the demand for jackfruit among consumers is very high.
JackfruIt in Vietnam.
According to Mr. Tuyen, data from the General Statistics Office shows that in 2020, the total area of jackfruit cultivation in the country increased by 16,881 hectares, reaching a total of 58,511 hectares, with Thai jackfruit being the main variety. In the Mekong Delta region alone, there are up to 30,045 hectares dedicated to jackfruit cultivation. The leading provinces are Tien Giang with 13,141 hectares and Hau Giang with 6,966 hectares.
Plant characteristics of the Jackfruit.
In Vietnam, there are currently many delicious types of jackfruit: female jackfruit, honey jackfruit, na jackfruit, Thai jackfruit, firm jackfruit, seedless jackfruit, etc.
The jackfruit tree in Vietnam is woody and can reach a height of 10-30 meters. Its trunk is covered with a thick, dark gray bark, and it branches extensively. The average diameter of the tree's base is between 20 to 30 centimeters. The quality of jackfruit wood is classified as Group IV.
Jackfruit bears unisexual flowers on the same tree. The flower clusters grow on the trunk or main branches. Male flowers form in squirrel tail-shaped clusters, while female flowers have oval-shaped clusters and grow on older trunks or branches. Female flowers are smaller and grow in short clusters. After pollination, they develop into fruits.
The jackfruit is a complex large fruit, consisting of many true fruits. Immature jackfruit is formed when the true fruit does not develop, and the true fruit eventually develops into edible jackfruit bulbs. The jackfruit is large, ranging from 30 to 60 centimeters in length and 15 to 30 centimeters in diameter, with a spiky outer skin.
The jackfruit is an easy-going fruit-bearing tree. However, the optimal temperature for its growth and development is between 20 - 32°C (68 - 89°F). The air humidity should be around 70-75%. During the flowering stage, the tree is particularly sensitive to humidity. At other stages, humidity has little impact. Jackfruit trees prefer bright sunlight, with an ideal annual light duration of 2,000 - 2,500 hours, ensuring high productivity throughout the year.
The tree can thrive in various types of soil. However, well-draining soil with a deep cultivation layer is essential for jackfruit cultivation. In low-lying areas, the planting should be elevated to avoid waterlogging. Jackfruit grows well in soil with a pH range of 5-7.5.
Jackfruit is a fruit-bearing tree with significant commercial and nutritional value. Its economic efficiency in cultivation surpasses that of many other crops. With one hectare of jackfruit, the market price currently ranges from 25,000 to 45,000 VND (approximately 1.1 to 2 USD) per kilogram, leading to an income of up to 350 million VND (approximately 15,300 USD) per hectare. Jackfruit is widely used in food processing and industrial production for consumer goods, such as jackfruit juice, dried jackfruit, and various flavors for cakes and candies. The fruit is also exported to many countries worldwide, generating substantial revenue for businesses.
The culinary potential of jackfruit is vast. When unripe, it has a meaty and fibrous texture, making it a popular vegan meat substitute in savory dishes such as curries, stir-fries, and tacos. Ripe jackfruit is often enjoyed as a sweet, tropical fruit and is used in desserts, smoothies, and jams. Its ability to take on various flavors and seasonings makes it a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes.
Jackfruit is not only prized for its taste and texture but also for its nutritional value. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and dietary fiber. Additionally, it contains antioxidants and phytonutrients that contribute to overall health and wellbeing. Jackfruit's nutritional profile makes it a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
Beyond its culinary uses, jackfruit has a history of being used in traditional medicine. In certain cultures, various parts of the tree, such as the roots, leaves, and latex, have been utilized for their purported medicinal properties. While modern scientific research is ongoing, some traditional beliefs suggest that jackfruit may have potential health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.
“Feng Shui” value.
In Vietnamese folklore, the jackfruit holds significant Feng Shui meaning. It is believed that having a jackfruit tree growing well and flourishing all year round in the house symbolizes prosperity and wealth for the homeowners. The pleasant fragrance of the jackfruit and its clustered fruits represent unity and strong family bonds, signifying a harmonious and happy family life. These auspicious symbols have led to the tradition of planting jackfruit trees in home gardens.
Currently, in the market for Feng Shui artwork, jackfruit wood is highly sought after. Besides its significance as a Feng Shui tree, jackfruit wood is used to create various religious and worship items, which hold significant economic value.
The discovery of jackfruit takes us on a fascinating journey through its origins, culinary versatility, nutritional benefits, and potential for a sustainable future. From its humble beginnings in the rainforests of South Asia to becoming a sought-after ingredient in kitchens worldwide, the jackfruit's ris e to fame is a testament to its uniqueness and adaptability. As we continue to explore and appreciate the wonders of this tropical treasure, one thing is certain – the jackfruit's allure is here to stay.