The word "jackfruit" comes from Portuguese jaca, which in turn is derived from the Malayalam language term chakka (Malayalam chakka pazham). When the Portuguese arrived in India at Kozhikode (Calicut) on the Malabar Coast (Kerala) in 1498, the Malayalam name chakka was recorded by Hendrik van Rheede (1678–1703) in the Hortus Malabaricus, vol. iii in Latin. Henry Yule translated the book in Jordanus Catalani's (f. 1321–1330) Mirabilia descripta: the wonders of the East.
The common English name "jackfruit" was used by physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his 1563 book Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India. Centuries later, botanist Ralph Randles Stewart suggested it was named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra, and Malaysia.
The jackfruit has played a significant role in Indian agriculture for centuries. Archeological findings in India have revealed that jackfruit was cultivated in India 3000 to 6000 years ago. It has also been widely cultivated in southeast Asia. Stingless bees such as Tetragonula iridipennis are jackfruit pollinators, and as such, play an important role in jackfruit cultivation.
The jackfruit also provides a potential solution to countries facing problems with food security, such as in several countries of Africa. In terms of taking care of the plant, minimal pruning is required; cutting off dead branches from the interior of the tree is only sometimes needed. In addition, twigs bearing fruit must be twisted or cut down to the trunk to induce growth for the next season. Branches may also be cut off every three to four years to maintain its productivity.
Jackfruit have a distinctive sweet and fruity aroma. In a study of flavour volatiles in five jackfruit cultivars, the main volatile compounds that were detected were ethyl isovalerate, propyl isovalerate, butyl isovalerate, isobutyl isovalerate, 3-methylbutyl acetate, 1-butanol, and 2-methylbutan-1-ol. A fully ripe and unopened jackfruit is known to "emit a strong aroma," with the inside of the fruit described as smelling of pineapple and banana. After roasting, the seeds may be a commercial alternative to chocolate aroma.
The flesh of the jackfruit is starchy and fibrous and is a source of dietary fiber. The flavor is comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. Varieties are distinguished according to characteristics of the fruit's flesh.
Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines.In Bangladesh, the fruit is consumed on its own. The unripe fruit is used in curry, and the seed is often dried and preserved to be later used in curry.
In Kerala, India, two varieties of jackfruit predominate: varikka and koozha. Varikka has a slightly hard inner flesh when ripe, while the inner flesh of the ripe koozha fruit is very soft and almost dissolves. A sweet preparation called chakka varattiyathu (jackfruit jam) is made by seasoning pieces of varikka fruit flesh in jaggery, which can be preserved and used for many months. Huge jackfruits up to four feet in length with a corresponding girth are sometimes seen in Kerala. The young fruit is idichakka or idianchakka in Kerala.
In West Bengal, India, the two varieties are called khaja kathal and moja kathal. The fruits are either eaten alone or as a side to rice, roti, chira, or muri. Sometimes the juice is extracted and either drunk straight or as a side with muri. The extract is sometimes condensed and eaten as candies. The seeds are either boiled or roasted and eaten with salt and hot chilies. They are also used to make spicy side dishes with rice or roti.
In Mangalore, Karnataka, India, the varieties are called bakke and imba. The pulp of the imba jackfruit is ground and made into a paste, then spread over a mat and allowed to dry in the sun to create a natural chewy candy.
In Coorg, Karnataka, India, many culinary items are made with Jackfruit. It is known as Chakke. Jackfruit seeds are fried and a curry is made.
In Maharashtra, and Goa, India, jackfruit is called as Fanas and Panas respectively. It's mostly found in Konkan region. There are two varieties. The hard variety is called kaapa and the soft variety is called barka,barkai or rasal. The juice of the barka is extracted and spread on greased metal dishes, which are then kept for sun-drying. Within 2–3 days, a tasty dried pancake-like dried jackfruit juice called phansacha saath or phanas poli results.
In Sri Lanka, the young fruit is called polos; ripened fruit is called waraka and wela.
Jackfruit is known as Rukh-Katahar (= tree katahar) in Nepal, while Bhui-Katahar (= Ground Katahar) denotes pineapple. The ripe fruit is eaten by itself (sometimes with a pinch of salt sprinkled on) as a delicacy, while the unripe fruit is used to prepare savory curry. The ripe fruit is also used to brew alcoholic beverages in some parts of the country.
In Indonesia, jackfruit is called nangka. The ripe fruit is usually sold separately and consumed on its own, or sliced and mixed with shaved ice as a sweet concoction dessert such as es campur and es teler. The ripe fruit might be dried and fried as kripik nangka, or jackfruit cracker. The seeds are boiled and consumed with salt, as it contains edible starchy content; this is called beton. Young (unripe) jackfruit is used in several kinds of curry, such as gulai nangka and gudeg.
In the Philippines, jackfruit is called langka in Tagalog and nangkà in Cebuano. The unripe fruit is usually cooked in coconut milk and is eaten as a viand together with rice. The ripe fruit is often an ingredient in local desserts such as halo-halo and the Filipino turon. The ripe fruit, besides also being eaten raw as it is, is also preserved by storing in syrup or by drying. The seeds are also boiled before being eaten.
Thailand is a major producer of jackfruit, which are often cut, prepared, and canned in a sugary syrup (or frozen in bags/boxes without syrup) and exported overseas, frequently to North America and Europe.
In Vietnam, jackfruit is used to make jackfruit chè (chè is a sweet dessert soup, similar to the Chinese derivative bubur chacha). The Vietnamese also use jackfruit purée as part of pastry fillings or as a topping on xôi ngọt (a sweet version of sticky rice portions).
In Brazil, three varieties are recognized: jaca-dura, or the "hard" variety, which has a firm flesh, and the largest fruits that can weigh between 15 and 40 kg each; jaca-mole, or the "soft" variety, which bears smaller fruits with a softer and sweeter flesh; and jaca-manteiga, or the "butter" variety, which bears sweet fruits whose flesh has a consistency intermediate between the "hard" and "soft" varieties. In Indochina, the two varieties are the "hard" version (crunchier, drier, and less sweet, but fleshier), and the "soft" version (softer, moister, and much sweeter, with a darker gold-color flesh than the hard variety).
In Réunion Island, the jackfruit tree was imported from India from British Bengal around 1780. From a tree planted for its shade in gardens, it became an ingredient for local recipes using different fruit segments. The seeds are boiled in water or roasted to remove toxic substances and then roasted for a variety of desserts. The flesh of the unripe jackfruit is used to make a savory salty dish with smoked pork called Ti'Jac Boucané. The jackfruit arils are used to make jams, fruits in syrup and can also be eaten raw.
Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet, with subtle flavoring. It can be used to make a variety of dishes, including custards, cakes, or mixed with shaved ice as es teler in Indonesia or halo-halo in the Philippines. In India, when the jackfruit is in season, an ice cream chain store called "Naturals" carries jackfruit-flavored ice cream.
Ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes seeded, fried, or freeze-dried and sold as jackfruit chips.
The seeds from ripe fruits are edible; are said to have a milky, sweet taste often compared to Brazil nuts. They may be boiled, baked, or roasted. When roasted, the flavor of the seeds is comparable to chestnuts. Seeds are used as snacks (either by boiling or fire roasting) or to make desserts. For making the traditional breakfast dish in southern India, idlis, the fruit is used with rice as an ingredient and jackfruit leaves are used as a wrapping for steaming. Jackfruit dosas can be prepared by grinding jackfruit flesh along with the batter. They are quite commonly used in curry in the Indian state of Kerala and used in Dalema (traditional Odiya lentil and vegetable mix curry) in Odisha. In Java, the seeds are commonly cooked and seasoned with salt as a snack.
The cuisines of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam use cooked young jackfruit. In Indonesia, young jackfruit is cooked with coconut milk as gudeg. In many cultures, jackfruit is boiled and used in curries as a staple food. In northern Thailand, the boiled young jackfruit is used in the Thai salad called tam kanun. In West Bengal, the unripe green jackfruit called aechor or ichor is used as a vegetable to make various spicy curries and side dishes and as fillings for cutlets and chops. It is especially sought-after by vegetarians who substitute this for meat; hence, is nicknamed gacch-patha (tree-mutton). In Odisha, jackfruit is called Panasa Katha and is used to make Panasa Tarkari (raw jackfruit curry); it is also used to make achar (pickled vegetables). In the Philippines, it is cooked with coconut milk (ginataang langka). In Réunion Island, it is cooked either alone or with meat, such as shrimp or smoked pork. In southern India, unripe jackfruit slices are deep fried to make chips. In Udipi cuisine, jackfruit is used make appa and addae.
Because unripe jackfruit has a meat-like taste, it is used in curry dishes with spices in Bihar, Jharkhand, Sri Lankan, Andhran, eastern Indian Bengali, Odisha and Keralan cuisines. The skin of unripe jackfruit must be peeled first; then the remaining whole jackfruit can be chopped into edible portions and cooked before serving. Young jackfruit has a mild flavor and distinctive meat-like texture and is compared to poultry. Meatless sandwiches have been suggested and are popular with both vegetarian and nonvegetarian populations.
The pulp of jackfruit is composed of 74% water, 23% carbohydrates, 2% protein and 1% fat (table). In a 100 gram portion, raw jackfruit provides 95 calories and is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin B6 (25% DV). It contains moderate levels (10-19% DV) of vitamin C and potassium, with no other nutrients in significant content (table).
The wood of the tree is used for the production of musical instruments. In Indonesia, hardwood from the trunk is carved out to form the barrels of drums used in the gamelan, and in the Philippines, its soft wood is made into the body of the kutiyapi, a type of boat lute. It is also used to make the body of the Indian string instrument veena and the drums mridangam, thimila, and kanjira; the golden yellow timber with good grain is used for building furniture and house construction in India. The ornate wooden plank called avani palaka, made of the wood of the jackfruit tree, is used as the priest's seat during Hindu ceremonies in Kerala. In Vietnam, jackfruit wood is prized for the making of Buddhist statues in temples and fish sauce barrels.
Jackfruit wood is widely used in the manufacture of furniture, doors, and windows, and in roof construction. The heartwood is used by Buddhist forest monastics in Southeast Asia as a dye, giving the robes of the monks in those traditions their distinctive light-brown color.
Outside of its countries of origin, fresh jackfruit can be found at food markets throughout Southeast Asia. It is also extensively cultivated in the Brazilian coastal region, where it is sold in local markets. It is available canned in sugary syrup, or frozen, already prepared and cut. Dried jackfruit chips are produced by various manufacturers. In northern Australia, particularly in Darwin, jackfruit can be found in outdoor produce markets during the dry season. Outside of countries where it is grown, jackfruit can be obtained year-round, both canned or dried.
Jackfruit industries are established in Sri Lanka and Vietnam, where the fruit is processed into products such as flour, noodles, papad, and ice cream. It is also canned and sold as a vegetable for export.
The wood of the jackfruit tree is important in Sri Lanka and is exported to Europe; it is termite-proof and is superior to teak for building furniture.
The marketing of jackfruit involves three groups: producers, traders, and middlemen, including wholesalers and retailers. The marketing channels are rather complex. Large farms sell immature fruit to wholesalers, which helps cash flow and reduces risk, whereas medium-sized farms sell the fruit directly to local markets or retailers.
The national fruit of Bangladesh is the jackfruit. It is the state fruit of the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and one of the three auspicious fruits of Tamil Nadu, along with the mango and banana.
In Brazil, the jackfruit can become an invasive species as in Brazil's Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Janeiro. The Tijuca is mostly an artificial secondary forest, whose planting began during the mid-19th century; jackfruit trees have been a part of the park's flora since its founding. Recently, the species has expanded excessively, and its fruits, which naturally fall to the ground and open, are eagerly eaten by small mammals, such as the common marmoset and coati. The seeds are dispersed by these animals; this allows the jackfruit to compete for space with native tree species. Additionally, as the marmoset and coati also prey opportunistically on birds' eggs and nestlings, the supply of jackfruit as a ready source of food has allowed them to expand their populations, to the detriment of the local bird populations. Between 2002 and 2007, 55,662 jackfruit saplings were destroyed in the Tijuca Forest area in a deliberate culling effort by the park's management.
The top five producers of jackfruits (in 1000 tonnes) were as follows: