Jackfruit is the latest, fashionable meat replacement for a plant-based diet.
But after 16 years living in northern Thailand and having had many jackfruit trees in various gardens, I have some confessions to make.
- We are daunted by the amount of jackfruits one tree produces – some of the ripe fruits weigh in over 10kg;
- We are gifted even more jackfruit from neighbours and our landlady than our own tree produces;
- Our Thai landlady (whose father planted the said jackfruit tree) regularly interrogates us as to why we’re not eating the jackfruit;
- We don’t especially like ripe jackfruit as a fruit (we are spoiled for choice in Thailand), and the texture is weird in smoothies.
Botanical name: Artocarpus heterophyllus
However, I’m, REALLY AWARE of what a powerful nutrition and natural medicine gem jackfruit is.
So what natural medicine gifts does jackfruit bring to the table (pun intended)?
- it’s an extremely high source of bio-available magnesium;
- it helps regulate blood sugar and prevents blood sugar spikes;
- it’s high in several important anti-oxidants – carotenoids and flavonones – which reduce inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure and help lower cholesterol;
- its nutrient rich ‘meat’ helps support excellent immune function;
- its high level of bio-available calcium combined with magnesium, make it an important bone nourishing food;
- anecdotally (but not studied or ‘proven’ by western science) it slows the aging of the skin, is useful in treating stomach ulcers and asthma.
What is it most well known for?
It’s traditionally a natural male sexual support. The boiled seeds are said to increase sperm quality and semen volume, and to be effective for treating impotence and improving erection duration and quality.
At least now I understand why every Thai house has a jackfruit tree! 😜
So, there we are with an abundant medicinal fruit which we don’t especially like. But which is becoming VERY popular as a meat substitute. So, while @eco-alex visited recently and we had a steem family cook-up, I decided to harvest a jackfruit, record the preparation process and make us a Thai curry.
Step One: Remove from tree when it’s about 12 inches long – sharp machete required!
It oozes a very sticky latex immediately on cutting and actually lets out a tiny whistle-squeal on being cut, which is a little disconcerting. It felt like it screamed and bled. For those of us who are fluent in “plant”, it’s a bit like watching a slaughter-house video.
I’ve documented the actually cutting and prep part in a short (2 minute) video that probably need to watch:
After the boiling process (10-15 mins is ideal) it looks like this:
Let it cool, and you will see the fruit starts to pull apart and separate:
Use your hands to pull off all the little ‘meaty’ fibers. The skin pulls off easily and I also discarded the spongy middle bit – great compost fodder. What you are left with, is simple jackfruit “meat” like this.
It’s chewy and has a meat-like texture, but only a very mild flavour of its own. At this point you can use it to make burgers, stir fries, salads or, like I did, a simple Thai jackfruit curry.
How do I make the varous Thai curries? Aaah – another post for another day. Suffice it to say I kept this one really simple – a spicy red jungle curry paste, organic cherry tomatoes, red onions, jackfruit ‘meat’ and Thai basil leaves from my garden. A water based (not coconut) Northern style curry.
So, if you have access to an over-producing jackfruit tree (or live near to someone who does), now you have it (and no more excuses): a fabulous, free, plant-based meal option, most of the year round, which is pure & natural medicine. Our Thai landlady will be so much happier to (finally!) see us using the jackfruits from her father’s tree.
Grateful for Mother Earth and Her Overflowing Abundance.