Jacked Up

My First Jack Fruit, Ever

Having seen beautiful pictures of South East Asia, and travelers tasting different exotic foods there, one being the Jack Fruit or Durian Fruit as it is also known; I was hoping to taste one, someday! It seemed that on one could describe the taste accurately, so I had a really clean canvas to explore.

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The one thing everyone agreed upon, was it’s awful smell. The Jack Fruit’s aroma made it unlikely to be well relished, making it a bit more difficult to ponder devouring it! So, and however, when persons got past the smell of the fruit, they all raved about how delicious it tasted; amazing, yummy, mouth watering, delectable flavor!

Lets discuss the “smell”, which wasn’t as repugnant as I thought; although, the first day there was a wafting odor from my kitchen sink. If you’ve ever smelled fresh from the plant Aloe Vera, it is similar to the Jack Fruit, (to me) the Aloe is stronger! The difference is that the Jack Fruit’s smell goes into the air, where as with fresh Aloe you need to get close to it, and get a good whiff.

Jack Fruit aka Big Al

I was pleasantly surprised, when a local green market had a Durian fruit! Of course, I snatched it up right away, and chatted with the merchant about how to prep it, and what was edible. He said that juice was also an option, and gave me some basic hints for juicing; also admitting, he had two trees in his yard!

At long last, I have a Jack fruit to call my own, it was big, heavy, and green; something like you want your bank account to be! Naming it “Big Al”, which is the name it inspired, although I normally don’t name fruits I’m sooner, or later, going to eat. Big Al, The Jack Fruit, or the Durian, “You Can Call Me Al”, as the Paul Simon song played in my head! I swear, and this is just from a fruit, that is new to me! Now, that’s excitement!!

Jack Fruit with mangoes, and bougainvillea.

I’m thinking splendid, right? Since, I can’t recall that anyone has actually described the flavor of Jack Fruit, ever! I’m full of anticipation. I start opening the fruit, by using a long kitchen knife, not sure where to exactly incise my cut? So, I decided to just go straight in, lengthwise into the fruit and feeling the large pods (seeds) underneath the blade of the knife. Trying to somehow cut as few pods as possible, which are covered in a creamy-yellow-flesh, I use my hands to negotiate a tug of war with the fruit’s sinuous fibers. The fruit’s peel, is full of tiny green cone-shaped mounds, which makes for one touch skin!

Jack Fruit cut in half.

The sticky-milk substance, stains my hands, and glues to every surface of my finger nails; actually it’s damn good glue, capturing a small fly that happened to make a bad judgement-call, and landed on the opened half! My knife is completely covered with the glue, and it looks like it’ll take a lot of soaking to get it clean.

Jack Fruit with seed pods.

Success! I am getting the flesh and squirting out the seed pods, taking the fleshy part for my first taste, ever!!! Uhm, wait a minute, this is Jack Fruit? That’s it??? Ok, so maybe I need to have a few more tastes, one of which was very sweet, however for the most part…not as exciting as I expected.

The fight with Big Al, was a pretty big, the struggle of getting it opened, the work of cleaning the fleshy-fruit, and the naturally-organic-glue all over my hands lead to one question: was it worth it?

Well, lets discuss, and understand the flavor more carefully. Describing the delicate flavor of the Jack Fruit isn’t easy at first, as taste-buds search for a reference.

The flavor is slightly vanilla-like, however it’s also banana-ish, maybe tapioca-banana-ish!

Yes that’s it, tapioca-banana, only not as sweet.

Jack Fruit, and mangoes still life.

So, that’s it! Unless someone peels, and preps the Jack Fruit for me, I’m not doing it again. Maybe there’s a better way to open a Jack Fruit, but I wasn’t thrilled with the flavor.

I do keep wondering about how Jack Fruit can be used in desserts, or even martinis, and maybe mimosas? A Jack-tini, maybe??

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Cheers, I will let you know how my search for recipes, and uses for Jack Fruit continues!

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