The largest fruit in the world, right in my kitchen


When you last heard from me, we had enough mangoes and bananas to feed a small army. Today, we can provide fruit salad for a battalion. Super Mario, our amazing gardener, just brought us a jack fruit from his tree. The photo above is the largest photo I have every put on this blog, which is fitting, as the jack fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, weighing up to 80 lbs. and 36″ long. I should be glad he gave us a small yaka, as it is known here in Mexico. It only measured 16″ long and weighed a mere 21 lbs.

From past experience I knew this was going to be sticky business, getting it cut up, cleaned and bagged for the freezer. The skin contains a sappy latex that could patch tires. The last time we cut up jack fruit, I had adhesive-like little globs stuck to the kitchen counter for weeks. This time we took extra precautions. Newspaper everywhere. Disposable gloves. Knife coated with vegetable oil. Old t-shirts. Muddy Waters on the cd player. I bet Muddy never ate jack fruit, but maybe I underestimate him.

Just getting it cut in half left the knife incredibly sticky. See those thin white lines of latex, seeking anything to stick to? Great effort and lots of oil will be needed later to finally clean my Henckel boning knife. It is still on the kitchen counter, magnet-like, attracting anything not tied down to hold in its sticky clutch.

My can-do husband Russ is the man for any job, thank goodness. If this had been up to me, I’d still be stuck to the table, fighting off strands of latex. He cut out the drupes of fruit, each one encasing a large, smooth seed. In case you don’t know, drupe is botanical-speak, meaning an individual fruit that forms with many other drupes in a single mass. Each jack fruit is a mass of many fruits. So is pineapple.

The drupes were cut open and each seed and its coating were removed. Did I say this took a lot of effort?

The cleaned out jack fruit took on a surreal appearance, like nothing else you or I have seen before in the plant world.

After one hour, a twenty-one pound jack produced seven pounds of fruit. This one had a mild flavor, but we have had others that tasted like a banana-flavored apricot. There is something about musky, tropical flavors that is hard to describe, probably because they can not be compared to any other familiar fruit. (Update: It seems the flavor is still developing in the fridge. Twenty-four hours later, a container of jack fruit has taken on a very sweet, cantaloupe-like flavor, but better than any cantaloupe I have ever eaten. )

Ready for the freezer, to be used in future breakfast smoothies.

Jack fruit originated in India and are now grow throughout tropical regions of the world. If you are driving along the coast road south of San Blas in the state of Nayarit, you will see road-side stands selling whole jack fruit and bags of cleaned fruit during the summer months. Sometimes they are in the local grocery stores, but not often.

To make a quick breakfast smoothie, or licuado as they are known in Mexico, take one small banana, an equal amount of jack fruit, about five or six ice cubes, a half cup of plain yogurt and one raw egg. Blend until smooth, adding cold milk or water for a drinkable  consistency.


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24 thoughts on “The largest fruit in the world, right in my kitchen

  1. Luis

    The Jack Fruit looks like a giant Bread Fruit. We cut the white flesh into 1/4 inch sections and deep fry it. When done its texture is similar to French fries. We also add salt and ketchup as desired.

    Can the Jack Fruit eaten that way also? If so i will buy the one i saw today….


  2. The green fruit can be cut and the pods can be deep fried for very yummy chips. You can add the salt after the fry or sprinkle the salt and marinate in it for a few minutes before frying.

    1. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is known as yaca in Mexico. You are right — the deeper the color the sweeter. We find our fruit to be even more sweet once it has been frozen, then thawed. And yes, they grow in Mexico, especially along the western coast near San Blas. It is hard to go 100 meters through a small coastal town without seeing a roadside stand selling whole fruit and bags of the cleaned fruit. They are so aromatic. Our entire car practically reeks of its heavy, musky aroma when we bring one home.

  3. Pingback: Jackfruit Seeds, Boiled and Peeled « Cooking in Mexico

  4. anneke

    Only once did we delve into the adventure of cutting up a jack fruit together with a couple of our most adventurous B&B guests in La Cruz. By the time we finished we had the sticky goop everywhere – in our hair – on our clothes – on the furniture – you name it! From then on I would only buy it already cut up and sold at the roadside food stands! Some of the vendors would giggle and laugh and tell me that the fruit has aphrodisiac properties. Judging by the amount of the fruit you two are consuming – maybe you can tell us if this is true!!!!!! :)
    It seems incredible that these giant fruit can grow on teeny tiny spindly little trees! Amazing!

    1. The first time we cut a jack fruit up, we had sticky spots everywhere, also. You can see in the photo how we learned to deal with it: newspapers, gloves, vegetable oil. Even then, we still had a few spots to clean up. I had not heard of it being an aphrodisiac until now. I checked on line, and apparently many cultures believe this, though it seems to be the seeds that are frequently cited as having this sought after quality. When many cultures think the same thing, there probably is something to it. As far as answering if it is true …. :)

  5. Holy Jackfruit Batman! Next time you hack one of those up, I’ll bring the beer! What a treat, I love exotic fruit but there’s so little in the States. Jealous.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think this one ever makes it across the border. That it has a smell bordering on funky may be one of the reasons. The smell is not as bad as the legendary durian, but you wouldn’t want it around in your kitchen for too long.

  6. cranefixer

    Umm I want one of those to play with !!!!
    That looks definitely like a Casey Fruit !!!
    Hmmm sooo the branches of the tree must be amazing will look this up on google curious about the Flowers for a fruit like this!!!!
    And I am guessing you need a Hard hat when having this tree in your yard lol/.

  7. Soooooooooooo glad you finally disclosed it was your dear husband, Russ, who was cutting up the fruit. I was getting worried about the ‘hairy arms’ in the photos. LOL. Funny you should post this but we were in Hong Kong Market in Houston, TX on Thursday, getting Lobsters for our anniversary and they had huge bins of the most giant jack fruit I have ever seen, some to be nearly 3 feet long. We did not buy any but I do love dehydrated Jack Fruit and have purchased it like that for years. It is so crunchy and delicious. Thanks for the wonderful photos and description of your husband Lumberjack – errrrrrrrrrr let’s see how can we change that word that already has ‘jack’ in it? Jackfruit cutter-upagus? Have a grrrrrrrreat time eating it and I don’t plan on buying a fresh one in this lifetime.


    1. When we were cutting up the jack fruit, I thought it would make a good candidate for the food dryer, because the water content seems low, but I did not know dried jack fruit was available commercially. Next time, I hope we get a bigger one (!) so I have enough for the dryer and the freezer.

      Happy anniversary!

  8. Sounds like fruit heaven down there. We’re up to our ears in black cherries and west slope Colorado peaches right now – they dominate the markets. But then we have quite a dry spell over the winter while you probably have various local fruits year round.

    1. Yes, we are in a tropical fruit heaven, while you experience a peach and cherry heaven, two fruits I miss very much. In the winter, we will have oranges, papayas and coconuts, the latter two being available year ’round.

  9. Mexico bound

    Our philipino nanny told us the jack fruit in the picture was still green. They cook it like a vegetable in Phillipines when it’s green. It apparently gets much sweeter when it turns yellow. They Also boil the seeds and eat them…same texture as sweet potato.

    1. She is right — the more yellow the color, the sweeter. Though surprisingly, after one day in the fridge, the fruit pieces were very sweet and more flavorful, like the sweetest cantaloupe I have ever eaten. Next time we get a jack fruit — having one in our kitchen is an infrequent event — I will wait until it is more yellow. I have read that the seeds are edible, though I have not tried them. I once boiled the seeds of a bread fruit, a relation of the jack fruit, and did not care for them.

  10. Go Russ ! Looking like the true scientist you are and great pal to cook with Kathleen ! Love the gloves and “scalpel” and Muddy Waters yet.
    Richard and I remember you describing these fruits to us.
    What a unique article and photos. I’m so intrigued.
    So it’s licuado – what a great word for a smoothie.

    1. Russ had a jack fruit smoothie for breakfast. I ate most of a zip lock bag of fruit sections. So many tropical fruits are in abundance this time of year. We need to eat fresh fruit three times a day to keep up with everything!

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