Jackfruit, Breadfruit & Relatives

The jackfruit (Artocarpus heteropyllus) originated in India at the foot of the Western Ghats, and is now very popular throughout South East Asia. Elsewhere in humid tropical areas it is a common garden tree. The fruit is unusual as it is borne on the main branches and the trunks, occasionally even from surface roots of the tree. Twigs would not be strong enough; jackfruit is 350-900mm in length and 250-500mm in diameter. It is the largest edible tree-grown fruit.

Jackfruit fondness grows with familiarity. The smell of a fully ripe fruit in an enclosed Jackfruitspace may at first be unpleasant to some although the experience cannot be compared to the durian. The fruit is covered with numerous hard points, is pale green in colour and changes to a yellowish-brown during ripening. Fruit is mature for harvest when the single small leaf above the stem withers and the first colour change occurs. Ripening continues post-harvest and with experience is ascertained by tapping the fruit. When ripe, fruit softens a little and will “give” when pushed. Ripe fruit exudes a musty, sweet aroma for a day or two before fruit is ideal for most purposes.

For some main course dishes the fruit is used unripe and sometimes quite immature. For most desserts, or where only the aril surrounding the seeds is used, the fruit should be fully ripe. Before cutting the fruit, it is important to guard against the sticky latex. Immature fruit have more latex, so work near a sink and coat the knife, hands and the centre of the cutting board with vegetable oil. Cut fruit into 50mm sections, then remove the skin from each section and remove the centre core.
Within the fruit is a fibrous material called the rags, which is used in some recipes. Some of the rags could be saved frozen as it is an excellent jam-setting agent. Embedded among the rags are numerous arils, the golden and richly flavoured flesh of the jackfruit. Within each aril is a seed, almost the size and shape of a shelled Brazil nut. Seeds are surrounded by a tough skin.

The seeds are edible and nutritious. They contain 38% carbohydrates, 6.6% proteins and 0.4% fats. They may be prepared in several ways. One way is to boil seeds for 5 minutes and then roast them in a heavy frying pan with a little oil. Similar results are obtained if they are cooked in a microwave oven. Use a low setting and enclose the seeds in a bag, as they tend to “explode”. The seeds are best roasted in hot coals of a burned down fire. Cut up, they may be included with a stew. The fruit aril is used in soups, main dishes, desserts, milk drinks, ice cream and fruit salads. In India it is preserved by boiling with sugar syrup, butter and coconut milk. The jackfruit arils freeze well and they may be used at a later time like fresh fruit. Arils are excellent dried or preserved in syrup.
Traditionally, arils are used in fruit salads, boiled with rice or coconut milk, in soup, and particularly with fish. Spikes are the young, totally green flowers. These may be cooked with sugar syrup and agar-agar, or used like vegetables in soups.

Some fruit growers plant seedling jackfruit trees as wind breaks, then later decide that they could also market this crop. As a result, jackfruit is supplied by many growers in small quantities and the fruit is very variable. In India the fruit is very cheap and is regarded as poor people’s food. Its use requires some effort and there is considerable waste with some fruit, unless a person is fond of the rags. Good varieties filled with crunchy, tasty ariels are well worth the trouble and cost, but a poor fruit at a high price is disappointing. Near the its production centres in the tropics jackfruit is reasonably well supplied during a large part of the year.

The chempedak (A. polyphema) is native to, and much appreciated in Malaysia. It is a close relative of the jackfruit. Compared with jackfruit, chempedak is, smaller, more elongated, and has a “waist”, a slight narrowing near the middle of the fruit. The rind has a pungent odour, is thinner than the jackfruit’s and its spines are flattened to studs. The flesh tends to be juicier, darker yellow and sweeter. Uses of the fruit’s arils, rags and seeds are like that of the jackfruit but the chempedak is more suited to dessert dishes.

The marang (A. odoratissimus), also known as tarap, resembles both the jackfruit and the seeded breadfruit in appearance. This stately tree is of South East Asian origin. Its large leaves are similar to the breadfruit’s, but they are less lobed. The Latin name indicates that the fruit is fine smelling. Contrasting the marang’s robust aroma, the fruit is succulent and mildly flavoured, quite suiting the palate of the uninitiated Westerners. The fruit is regarded as superior to both jackfruit and chempedak.

The fruit is round to oblong, about 170mm in length, and the thick rind is covered with soft, short spines. These become rigid and brittle when fruit is mature. The fruit does not fall when ripe. It may be harvested mature but hard, and left to soft ripen. Marang turns green-yellow when ripe.
Ripe fruit is opened by cutting the rind around the fruit. Twisting and gently pulling the halves leaves the fruit’s flesh separated. The internal structure is similar to the jackfruit’s. The core is relatively large, but there are fewer “rags” and more of the edible fruit. Arils are white and the size of a grape, each containing a 12mm long seed. Once opened, the marang should be consumed within a few hours, as it loses flavour quickly and fruit darkens.
The tree is less cold tolerant than the breadfruit. It would grow only between latitude 15º north and south, and only in coastal regions where temperatures never “plummet” below 7ºC.

BreadfruitThe breadfruit (A. altilis) and breadnut are part of South Pacific legends. They evolved in Indonesia’s Sunda Archipelago and became the staple diet for islanders throughout the tropical Pacific islands. They are one species. The breadfruit originated by chance as a seedless breadnut, and is perpetuated from root-cuttings. The breadfruit is up to 200mm in diameter and almost spherical. It can weigh up to 4kg. These fruit differ both externally and internally
. The breadfruit is used as a vegetable when mature but not ripe. Ripe breadfruit is also used for dessert dishes. Roasted fruit compares well with roasted potatoes at their best. Like potato and banana, the breadfruit is rich in starch, only some of which is converted into sugars on ripening. The fruit tends to become somewhat gluey if boiled or cooked in a microwave oven for 5 minutes. The breadfruit’s palatability, like that of other starchy foods, is much improved by the addition of fats.

Westerners tend to prefer the mature, hard fruit to be peeled, sliced and fried with a little vegetable oil. Alternatively, the soft-ripe fruit may be halved, the pulp spooned into a skillet, flattened, and fried like a thick pancake in a little vegetable oil. Nutritionally, breadfruit flesh is an excellent staple, rich in proteins and with a range of amino acids. However, it contains a lot of starch and it must be supplemented with green leafy vegetables to provide a balanced meal.

To Polynesians breadfruit and banana were vitally important. The threat of cyclones, droughts, and the total destruction of crops by enemies were a constant danger to their existence. Total destruction of crops was the second greatest victory over one’s enemies in Polynesian society -the greatest was to obtain the foe’s “mana”, by eating him. These pressures led to the development of food preservation techniques which were applied to breadfruit and bananas. Fruit were peeled and wrapped in airtight parcels using heliconia, and then banana leaves. Buried, they would ferment, but not rot. When baked with coconut cream, this food is edible several years later. Readers will find it more convenient to store parboiled breadfruit excess for a limited time by freezing .





Poi-Poi; Mashed Breadfruit
1 mature or ripe breadfruit
coconut milk
chopped browned onions
Roast whole fruit for 20 minutes in hot ashes of a burnt down fire.
Test that fruit is cooked by inserting a fork.
Cooking in an oven at 200ºC will give similar results.
Cool fruit to allow handling, then peel.
Mash fruit, add a little coconut milk.
Add salt and browned, chopped onions.
from the Pacific Islands Poi-poi is not to everyone’s liking. Semler in 1892, unkindly compared this dish to bookbinders paste. This seems no more justified than such a comparison with mashed potatoes.



Buko Salad
10 green coconut slivers
250ml coconut jelly
250ml palm sugar
250ml tropical fruit
salad (can?)
1 peeled and sliced apple
70ml jackfruit arils
cut in halves
500ml thickened cream
Drain juice from coconut jelly, palm sugar and fruit salad.
Place all ingredients in a serving dish and mix gently.
Chill before serving.
Note: coconut jelly may be purchased from Asian food stores as nata de coco. These stores also supply palm sugar.



Fried Jackfruit
1 small unripe, immature
or mature jackfruit (2kg)
3ml cumin seeds
40ml vegetable oil
3 chopped onions
2 chopped, hot chilies (?)
2ml turmeric powder
40ml desiccated coconut
20ml lemon juice
Coat hands and knife with vegetable oil.
Cut jackfruit across stem into four sections.
Remove the internal parts of the stem, cut the “rags” and arils from the skin; arils and seeds are undeveloped in very immature fruit.
Remove seeds. Chop rags and arils for later.
Using a large skillet, fry cumin seeds in vegetable oil until brown.
Add the onions and chilies (?) and fry until golden brown.
Add turmeric and chopped jackfruit, fry until slightly golden tinge appears, check that it is tender.
Add desiccated coconut and continue heating for two more minutes.
Serve with rice, and a slice of lemon to squeeze over jackfruit.
The dish may also be used cold as a salad.



Stuffed Jackfruit
125ml mashed
papaya pulp
30ml honey
grated coconut
de-seeded jackfruit arils
Mix papaya, honey and coconut and stuff into jackfruit arils.



Jackfruit & Apple Pie
1 baked pastry pie crust
500ml frozen (?) jackfruit
125 ml dates
125ml sultanas
350ml can unsweetened
pie apples
enough apple juice
to cover fruit
40ml arrowroot
Thaw out frozen jackfruit. Chop into small cubes.
Chop up dates and sultanas.
Place all fruit in saucepan and cover to about 50mm above fruit with apple juice.
Bring to boil, then simmer until fruit is cooked and soft.
Mix arrowroot with water and add to mixture
Stir until thickened.
Pour into pie shell, cool, and then refrigerate.
Serve with guanabana ice cream or custard.



Double-Baked Jackfruit Dunking Biscuits
250ml whole, unblanched
2 eggs
160ml sugar
500ml unsifted flour
5ml sodium bicarbonate
6 pieces of finely
minced jackfruit arils
Roast nuts at 180ºC for 10 minutes and leave to cool.
Beat eggs and sugar, add all other ingredients, except the almonds .
Mix the rather dry dough by hand; if dry material cannot be worked in, add another egg.
Add almonds. Knead to distribute these well.
Divide dough into three equal parts. Elongate and flatten to produce strips of 50 x 300mm.
Place on a baking paper covered biscuit tray with 50mm gaps separating the strips.
Bake at 150ºC for 50 minutes.
Transfer “loaves” to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 12mm slices.
Lay slices on their sides, on the used baking paper and bake for another 40 minutes at 150ºC.
Finely cut dried fruit could be used in lieu of the jackfruit, but another egg may be required.
This is a very crunchy biscuit, suited to revive the custom of dunking a biscuit in tea or coffee -or into a good port wine in an emergency!
adapted from an Italian recipe



Tapioca & Jackfruit Cake
1250ml grated cassava root
1000ml pureed jackfruit
500ml desiccated or
grated coconut
500ml rolled oats
250ml wholemeal flour
1 beaten egg
125ml sugar or honey
coconut for topping (?)
spices for extra flavour (?)
Wash grated cassava root and express excess water
Mix all ingredients, bake in a shallow cookie tray, or in a lined cake pan at 180ºC for 40-50 minutes.



Boiled Breadfruit
350ml water or
coconut milk
1 green but mature
breadfruit, about 1kg
Boil water in a large saucepan, stir in salt.
Remove stem and wash fruit.
Halve from top to bottom, then halve again into quarters, and then eighths.
Cut out centre core if desired.
Place pieces, skin downwards, in saucepan.
Cover closely. When it begins to boil, lower heat and cook slowly until all water is absorbed.
Turn pieces after 15 minutes. They should be cooked in 25 minutes.
Check by using a skewer.
Cool slightly, peel thinly, cut into pieces. Serve warm, like potato part of a meal.
N.B. Breadfruit may also be prepared deep fried, similar to potato chips.



Breadfruit Soup
1 ripe breadfruit
1 litre clear beef soup
5ml paprika
salt (?)
juice of one lime
100ml coconut cream
Pierce breadfruit skin and bake for 35 minutes at 180ºC or microwave for 8-12 minutes.
When partially cooled, separate flesh from skin and add this to the heated clear beef soup
Season with pepper and paprika, add lime juice.
Smooth soup in a blender.
Reheat before serving, but do not boil.
Add 10ml of coconut cream to each serving and stir.



Breadfruit Salad
1 mature, firm
1 or 2 large onions
100ml lemon juice
60ml salad oil
salt (?)
pepper (?)
10ml sugar
chopped parsley
chopped spring onion
3 hard boiled eggs
Cut breadfruit in quarters leaving skin and centre.
Put in a large pot, cover with water, add a little salt and boil covered until tender.
Slice onion finely.
Place in a bowl, cover with cold water, add a little salt and leave standing for 15 minutes.
Drain water and rinse onions.
Squeeze onions with hands to remove all water and put into another bowl.
Add lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, sugar, chopped parsley and chopped spring onions.
When breadfruit is cooked, cool and then refrigerate.
Remove skin and centre, slice thinly and arrange neatly on serving platter.
Slice eggs and arrange on top. Cover with onion mixture.
Some red capsicum may be added for colour.
N.B. It is preferable to boil breadfruit on the previous day. Excess breadfruit may be used in lieu of potatoes in curries.



Breadfruit Casserole
1 ripe breadfruit
500ml cubed, cooked meat
2 onions , sliced
50ml chopped leaf
vegetables or
1 eggplant (?)
4 tomatoes
pepper to taste
150g grated cheese
(cheddar or Edam)
Bake breadfruit for 60 minutes at 160ºC; it is cooked when a fork is easily inserted.
Meat may be left-over roast; brown this with a little vegetable oil and onions, set aside.
If eggplant is used, cut fruit into 4mm slices and fry lightly. Prepare tomatoes identically.
Peel partially cooled breadfruit and dice the flesh.
Place half of this in a greased casserole dish.
Cover with half of each: the meat, then the leaf vegetable, the tomato mixture, and half of the cheese.
Repeat layering with remaining ingredients.
Bake at 180ºC for 40 minutes, or until the cheese is browned.



Creamed Breadfruit
1 breadfruit
20g butter
100ml milk
1 egg
Boil breadfruit until soft, about 30 minutes.
When breadfruit is cool enough to handle, remove the skin.
Mash pulp together with butter, salt and pepper. Slowly add milk and egg, beating well.
Place in a casserole dish.
Bake at 180ºC until the top is browned.



Breadfruit Bake
1 ripe breadfruit
1 coconut
500g sliced or
diced fish
Boil a ripe breadfruit as per the boiled breadfruit recipe.
Prepare coconut cream from coconut, see page 82.
Place slices of breadfruit into a casserole, pour coconut cream over and bake for 15 minutes at 180ºC.
Add fish (fresh is preferred, otherwise use tinned) during last 15 minutes of cooking.
Serve with a bowl of freshly cooked vegetables.



Breadfruit in Fish Salad
500ml cooked mature
breadfruit, cubed
250ml cubed cooked
or tinned fish
2 chopped hard boiled eggs
250ml finely sliced, mixed
60ml grated onion
watercress or lettuce
salad dressing or lemon
Combine all ingredients except the watercress (or lettuce).
Add salad dressing or lemon juice if desired.
Serve cold on lettuce or watercress.



Breadfruit Scones
20g butter
50ml sugar
1 egg
180ml sour cream
(or yoghurt)
180ml breadfruit pulp
(very ripe)
750ml SR flour
Cream butter and sugar, add egg, mix, then add sour cream.
Add breadfruit pulp, mixing throughout.
Finally, add sifted SR flour and mix.
Cut scones and place on a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake at 250ºC for 12 minutes.



Baked Breadfruit Souffle
500ml cooked,
mashed breadfruit
125ml brown or
white sugar
2ml nutmeg
or cinnamon
2ml ground ginger
3 separated eggs
375ml coconut milk
100ml raisins
soaked in rum
Mix all ingredients except egg whites.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture.
Pour into a greased or baking paper lined cake tin.
Bake at 180ºC for 45 minutes until souffle has risen and browned.
Serve hot or cold.



Roasted Chicken with Breadfruit
1.5kg chicken
salt to taste
500ml cooked
mature breadfruit
10ml citrus rind
40ml chopped parsley(?)
40ml vegetable oil
2 small onions, sliced
1 crushed clove of garlic
10ml lemon juice
Rub chicken with salt. Mash cooked, cored and peeled breadfruit, add citrus rind, salt and parsley.
Fry onions and garlic in pre-heated oil.
When cooked, mix in breadfruit mixture and use to stuff the chicken.
Sew up the chicken.
Rub chicken with lemon and then with butter.
Place chicken in a covered baking dish, containing 60ml of water.
Bake at 180ºC for 60 minutes.
Remove the cover, baste; brown chicken in the oven for a further 30 minutes.



Breadfruit Cake
1 sachet of yeast
5ml sugar
120ml warm water
750ml soft ripe breadfruit
4 eggs
200ml sugar
250ml chopped mixed fruit
125ml chopped dates
200ml chopped nuts
juice and grated rind
of 1 orange
5ml cinnamon
500ml wholemeal flour
Place yeast, 5ml sugar and half a cup of warm water in a small bowl. Mix, and set aside
Mix breadfruit pulp in a bowl with all other ingredients, add flour last.
When yeast has risen, add to cake mixture. Add more flour if required to give dough a “cake” consistency.
Place in a lined cake tin. Bake at 180ºC for 50 minutes.
Test with a knife, which should be clean when withdrawn from the cake to indicate that baking is complete.