Photo: Late boat at Waecicu near Labuan Bajo.

What is a jackfruit?

The jackfruit is the world's largest fruit - and is suitably popular with lumbering pachyderms who'll go out of their way during treks to grab a mouthful of the deliciously sweet fruit. A single fruit can grow as large as a metre long and weigh up to 45 kilograms.

The fruit, a native to southern India, is eaten both immature, when it's treated more as a vegetable, and ripe, when it gradually gets sweeter and more yellow and is eaten raw or juiced. The smell of a ripe fruit before it is open can be a bit disagreeable, but the flavour is reminiscent of a cross between pineapple and banana. It's often used as an ice cream topping or served with sticky rice, while deep-fried jackfruit is another treat. The edible leaves, flowers and seeds of the tree turn up in spicy curries and and can be served with nam prik, or chilli dip. The seeds are considered a delicacy but are notorious for causing gas.

The knob-covered skin of the fruit is light green and turns yellow-brown when ripe. The fruit is divided into segments known as pericarps - a single fruit can contain up to 500 - which are covered in stringy white tissue and enclose a single dark seed. In urban Thai areas, jackfruit is often sold by street vendors who break up the pericarps ready for eating, a rather labour-intensive job.

It's best from January to May and in Thailand the provinces of Chonburi, Uttaradit and Nakhon Ratchasima are supposed to produce the best fruit.

Fruit in Asia FAQ

A bit of history, perhaps a taste-test and an idea on just what some of those Asian fruits really look like.

Asian fruit FAQ

What is a banana?
What is a cantaloupe?
What is a durian?
What is a guava?
What is a longan?
What is a mangosteen?
What is a papaya?
What is a pineapple?
What is a rambutan?
What is a soursop?
What is a starfruit?
What is a watermelon?

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