AskDefine | Define jackfruit

Dictionary Definition



1 East Indian tree cultivated for its immense edible fruit and seeds [syn: jackfruit tree, Artocarpus heterophyllus]
2 immense East Indian fruit resembling breadfruit of; its seeds are commonly roasted [syn: jak, jack]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A tree, scientific name Artocarpus heterophyllus, of the Moraceae family, which produces edible fruit.
  2. The large fruit from this tree.

Extensive Definition

seealso Mangifera caesia The Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a species of tree of the mulberry family (Moraceae) and its fruit, native to southwestern India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Sri Lanka, and possibly also east to the Malay Peninsula, though more likely an early human introduction there. It is well suited to tropical lowlands. It is commercially grown and sold in these countries, as well as imported around Australia. The English name jackfruit, one of many for the fruit, derives from Portuguese jaca, which is derived from Malayalam chakka.


The jackfruit is the largest tree borne fruit in the world. Its fruit is seldom less than about 25 cm in diameter. Even a relatively thin tree (circa 10cm diameter) can bear large fruit. The fruits can reach 36kg in weight and up to 90cm long and 50cm in diameter.
The sweet yellow sheaths around the seeds are about 3-5 mm thick and have a taste similar to that of pineapple but milder and less juicy.

Cultivation and uses

Jackfruit is widely grown in South, Southeast Asia and northern Australia. It is also grown in parts of Hawaii, central and eastern Africa, Brazil, Suriname, and in islands of the West Indies such as Jamaica and Trinidad. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Indonesia. The jackfruit bears fruit three years after planting.
The jackfruit has played a significant role in the Indian agriculture (and culture) from time immemorial. Archeological findings in India have revealed that jackfruit was cultivated in India 3000 to 6000 years ago. Findings also indicate that Indian Emperor Ashoka the Great (274 - 237 BC) encouraged arbori-horticulture of various fruits including jackfruit. Varahamihira, the Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer wrote a chapter on the treatment of trees in his Brhat Samhita. His treatise includes a specific reference on grafting to be performed on trees such as jackfruit.
The jackfruit is something of an acquired taste, but it is very popular in many parts of the world. An unopened ripe fruit can have an unpleasant smell, like rotting onions. The light brown to black seeds with white innards are about the 2-3 inches long. People often oil their hands with coconut oil, or paraffin before preparing jackfruit, as the rest of the fruit is a loose white mass that bleeds a milky, sticky sap often used as glue.

Commercial availability

Outside of its countries of origin, fresh jackfruit can be found at Asian food markets. It is also extensively cultivated in the Brazilian coastal region, being commercialized in local markets. It may also be available canned in sugar syrup or frozen. Sweet jackfruit chips are produced by various manufacturers.
The wood of the tree is used for the production of various musical instruments. In Indonesia it forms part of the gamelan and in the Philippines, its soft wood is made into the hull of a kutiyapi, a type of Philippine boat lute. It is also used to make the body of the Indian drums mridangam and kanjira. It is also widely used in the manufacture of furniture.

Dishes and preparations

Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. It can be eaten unripe (young) or ripe, and cooked or uncooked. The seeds can also be eaten cooked or baked like beans; they taste similar to chestnuts. The leaves are sometimes used as a wrapping for steamed Idlis.
Unripe (young) jackfruit can also be eaten whole. Young jackfruit has a mild flavour and distinctive texture. The cuisines of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Vietnam use cooked young jackfruit. In many cultures, jackfruit is boiled and used in curries as a food staple.

Other preparations:

  • Jackfruit chips (e.g. Nafiri brand from Surabaya, Indonesia)
  • Asian ice desserts (including Indonesian & Filipino)
  • Turon, a Filipino dessert made of banana and jackfruit wrapped in an eggroll wrapper
  • Sometimes an added ingredient for cassava cake
  • An optional ingredient in kolak (an Indonesian mung bean and coconut based dessert).
  • It is thought that jackfruit is the basis for the flavour of Juicy Fruit chewing gum.
  • Jackfruit candy
  • Vitamin Water sells a jackfruit - guava (b+ theanine) beverage
  • Jackfruit smoothies or milkshakes
  • Atu Kos: Smoked jackfuit - a way of preserving it, to use during non-season in Sri Lanka.


The fruit is called a variety of names around the world:

See also

jackfruit in Bengali: কাঁঠাল
jackfruit in Catalan: Kathal
jackfruit in German: Jackfrucht
jackfruit in Spanish: Artocarpus heterophyllus
jackfruit in French: Jacquier
jackfruit in Indonesian: Nangka
jackfruit in Pampanga: Yangka
jackfruit in Lithuanian: Stambusis duonmedis
jackfruit in Malayalam: പ്ലാവ്
jackfruit in Marathi: फणस
jackfruit in Malay (macrolanguage): Pokok Nangka
jackfruit in Dutch: Nangka
jackfruit in Japanese: パラミツ
jackfruit in Narom: Artocarpus heterophyllus
jackfruit in Polish: Dżakfrut
jackfruit in Portuguese: Jaca
jackfruit in Russian: Джекфрут
jackfruit in Simple English: Jackfruit
jackfruit in Finnish: Jakkihedelmä
jackfruit in Tamil: பலாப்பழம்
jackfruit in Telugu: పనస
jackfruit in Thai: ขนุน
jackfruit in Vietnamese: Mít
jackfruit in Tonga (Tonga Islands): Mei ʻinitia
jackfruit in Chinese: 波罗蜜
jackfruit in Kannada: ಹಲಸು
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