Exotic Jaca Fruit
Tara A. Spears
This bizarre looking tropical fruit is highly sought after for its alleged medical properties and some people just like the taste. The jackfruit (jaca in Spanish) is well adapted to the hot humid tropics. Since optimum growth and production of jaca occurs in continuously warm areas, this exotic fruit is cultivated in the humid subtropical climate of Mexico along the coastal areas where there are no freezes. Throughout Riviera Nayarit lots of the roadside fruit stands display these large spiny green fruits which have a main season during summer. The time from flowering to fruit maturity ranges from 150 to 180 days.
Jackfruit, a member of the breadfruit and mulberry family, grows on large evergreen trees. Due to the size of a mature yaca tree it is not suitable for a typical home garden. But should you wish to harvest your own fruit, you need to be prepared with sharp tools.
Harvest fruit with landscape saw, clippers, or loppers. The cut stem will immediately exude white, sticky latex; be careful as this latex will permanently stain clothing. Wrap the cut end with a paper towel to make handling easier, or set the fruit on its side until the flow of latex ceases. Try not to let the fruit drop to the ground as it will be bruised. Pickers may want to wear gloves when handling the fruit. Once the fruit is removed from the tree, place the fruit in the shade until the latex stops exuding from the cut stem.
The jackfruit is a multiple fruit i.e., composed of the coherence of multiple flowers. Fruit is moderately large to very large, weighing from 10 to 60 pounds (4.5-27.3 kg). The skin is extremely rough and thick. Fruit skin color is green when immature and green, greenish-yellow to brownish-yellow when ripe. The inside of the fruit contains the edible, sweet, aromatic, crispy, soft, or melting pulp that surrounds each seed. Between the seeds and edible pulp is the inedible “rag”. Pulp color varies from amber to yellow, dark yellow, or orange.
Jackfruit may be eaten as a vegetable when picked at an immature stage or eaten fresh when picked at a mature stage and allowed to ripen. Immature fruit are usually less than three months old, are green and may be harvested for cooking.
Mature fruit have 35% to 40% edible flesh. However, it is not easy to determine when the fruit is ripe. There are several fruit characteristics that may be used alone or together to indicate a particular cultivar is mature. In many cultivars the skin color changes from green to light green or yellow. Maturing fruits usually develop a strong aroma and the peel spines flatten and widen. Green fruits have a solid sound when tapped whereas ripe fruits have a hollow sound.
When purchasing, buy fruit that emits a mild yet rich odor and just yields to thumb pressure. Thorn-like projections becomes softer in ripe fruit. Once ripened, the fruit will deteriorate rather quickly unless its processed arils (bulbs) are stored inside the refrigerator.
Cool temperatures (<60oF; 16oC) may delay ripening. The proper storage temperatures for jackfruit have not been determined. Fruit pulp may be stored in the refrigerator and fully ripe fruit segments may be placed in polyethylene bags and frozen for later use.
There are many ways to enjoy eating this exotic fruit. Green, immature fruit may be used as a vegetable in cooking including soups, and baked dishes, and fried. The pulp of ripe fruit may be eaten fresh, dried, or preserved in syrup or used for salads. The seeds can be boiled and roasted (eaten as a nut.
In addition to its food value, the wood of the jackfruit tree is highly prized. The yaca wood is used in making musical instruments, furniture and even for house construction. A textile dye from the yaca wood is used for the distinct color of Monks’ robes in Southeast Asia.
Jackfruit contains high amounts of carbohydrate and calories that provides energy instantly. It is rich in antioxidants (vitamins A and C) which protect from cancer, ageing and degenerative disease. Due to its rich antioxidants yaca is good for eye sight and protects from conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. Yaca strengthens immune function and can protect from cold, flu, infections, and critical conditions like cancer and tumors. It also improves bone and skin health.
Jackfruit contains 10% of the daily requirement of potassium. Potassium controls sodium and helps maintain the electrolyte balance along with regulating muscle function. All these roles make yaca a very healthy food for lowering high blood pressure and maintaining heart health. Many believers in holistic medicine tout yaca as a wonder cure for many serious health conditions.
Jackfruit contains high amount of carbohydrate and calorie that provides energy instantly. It is rich in antioxidants which protect from cancer, ageing and degenerative disease. Due to rich antioxidants it is good for eye sight and protects from conditions like cataract and macular degeneration. Jackfruit is a good source of potassium which maintains fluid and electrolyte level in balance. It also can improve bone and skin health.
Jackfruit is a high grade anti-oxidant owing to dense concentration of vitamin C. It strengthens immune function and protects from cold, flu, infections, and critical conditions like cancer and tumors.
Jackfruit contains 10% of the daily requirement of potassium. Potassium controls sodium and helps maintains the electrolyte balance along with regulating muscle function. All these roles make jaca a very healthy food for lowering high blood pressure and maintaining heart health.
Jackfruit contains high amount of calcium which strengthens and promotes healthy bone health. Other bone related illnesses like arthritis and osteoporosis can also be managed and prevented with regular, seasonal consumption of yaca. The high potassium level in Jackfruit further decreases the loss of calcium through the kidney thereby increasing calcium bone density. This fruit was recommended to me for my health issues, but unfortunately, I can’t stand the taste.
The next time you visit Riviera Nayarit, try some of the weird looking yaca- or at least have your picture taken with this monster fruit!