Learning how to cut jackfruit may seem like a daunting task. But once you discover a few simple techniques, you’ll be on your way to making healthy, flavorful recipes with this not-so-foreign fruit.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a large fruit that grows on jackfruit trees, which are in the same family as fig, breadfruit, and mulberry trees. Native to tropical climates like India, Bangladesh, and Thailand, this odd-looking fruit is becoming a popular item on the grocery lists of North Americans.
With a spiky green exterior and yellow, fibrous flesh on the inside, jackfruit can grow up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. In fact, jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world! (More on jackfruit benefits and buying tips here!)
How to Cut Jackfruit
Before you learn how to cut jackfruit, it may seem a little overwhelming. But rest assured, like with other tropical fruits (like cutting dragon fruit) it’s actually a simple process that anyone can master. All you need is a little patience and some time!
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Step 1: Prepare your tools
Inside every jackfruit is a sticky, latex sap, so you’ll need to prepare a few things in advance to reduce the mess. First, make sure you have a clean surface to work on. Some people like to lay down parchment paper, but it’s not completely necessary.
Next, oil your knife and non-dominant hand. You can also wear gloves if you have them. This will really help reduce the stickiness involved with the preparation.
Step 2: Cut it in half, then quarters
First, cut the jackfruit in half lengthwise. Then, cut each half lengthwise into quarters, leaving four large pieces.
Step 3: Remove the core
Remove the white core in the center of the jackfruit, which is too tough to eat. When removing the core, it’s important to cut away from your body for safety reasons.
Step 4: Remove the fruit Pods
Reach in and remove the fruit pods that are tucked between the fibrous flesh. It can help to bend the jackfruit to loosen them up a little bit.
Step 5: Remove the seeds
Each fruit pod contains a hard seed that should be removed before eating. Use your fingers or a paring knife to open the pods. Keep the seeds in a bowl so you can roast them later for a healthy and nutritious snack (here’s how to cook jackfruit seeds!)
How to Use Jackfruit
Jackfruit can be used in its ripe or unripe form for many different recipes. Here are a few fun ways to use yours.
Unripe jackfruit is often sold canned as “young jackfruit”. This is less sweet, making it great as a vegetarian meat substitute!
- Tacos and sandwiches: BBQ pulled “pork” sandwiches or carnitas tacos.
- Soups, stews, and stir-fries: Add unripe jackfruit to jackfruit curries, soups, stews, and stir-fries to add bulk, texture, and flavor. Similar to tofu, unripe jackfruit soaks up flavors quite well.
Ripe jackfruit, on the other hand, is very sweet! It can be enjoyed:
- By itself: Just like any other ripened fruit, jackfruit is great to eat on its own.
- Add-ins: Add it to jackfruit smoothies, in yogurt, or on top of ice cream for an extra flavor boost.
Leave unripe jackfruit on the countertop to ripen. Once you’ve cut it open, follow these simple storage tips:
- Fridge: Cover the cut jackfruit in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to a week. If you’ve removed the pods, it’s best to eat them immediately for the best flavor and texture.
- Freezer: Store the fruit pods in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready for more jackfruit recipes, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
How To Tell if it’s ripe
- Color: When it’s first picked from the tree, jackfruit is a light green hue. As it starts to ripen, it changes to a golden brown color. Some darker brown spots are okay too.
- Sound: Much like watermelon, you can tap on the exterior of the jackfruit to determine its ripeness. Ripe jackfruit makes a hollow sound, indicating the fruit is starting to mature.
- Touch: Unripe jackfruit is quite rough in the beginning stages of ripening. Once it starts to change color, it starts to soften as well.
- Smell: One of the easiest ways to tell when jackfruit is ripe is by the smell. Unripe jackfruit has a relatively neutral smell. Once it starts to ripen, it gives off an intense bubblegum smell. Many people say it’s similar to Juicy Fruit gum.
- Taste: Last but not least, if you’re still unsure if your jackfruit is ripe, you can always cut it open and taste it. Ripe jackfruit has a similar flavor profile to mangoes or pineapple. When it’s unripe, it’s relatively neutral, but it’s great at soaking up other flavors from broth or marinade.
To determine if your jackfruit has gone bad, assess the exterior for large soft black spots that are soggy and wet to the touch. If the smell is “off” or the flavor is not quite right, it’s best to throw it out.
If you didn’t wear gloves, the best way to clean your hands after cutting a jackfruit is to rub oil on them and rinse them with soap and warm water.
The best knives to use for cutting open a jackfruit are a chef knife, utility knife, or bread knife. Typically, the larger the knife, the easier it will be to cut jackfruit. However, I don’t recommend using your best knife as the latex sap can ruin it.