On Wednesday March 21, 2018, the jackfruit was declared fruit of the state of Kerala. The elephant is the state animal of Kerala, the great hornbill, the bird and the kanikkonna the flower, the green chromid or “pearl spot”, popularly known as karimeen, as its state fish .
Most of the states of India have their trees, flowers, fruits, etc. Some states also have their songs. Jackfruit is also the fruit of the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. The jackfruit has played an important role in Indian agriculture for centuries. Archaeological finds in India have revealed that jackfruit was cultivated in India 3,000-6,000 years ago.
The aim is to promote Kerala Jackfruit as a brand in the domestic and overseas markets, highlighting its organic and nutritional qualities. It would also help boost the production and sale of the fruit, in addition to increasing its value-added products. According to available information, around 320 million jackfruit trees are produced each year in the state, 30% of which are wasted. There are over 100,000 trees in backyards and cultivated for shade in betel, coffee, pepper and cardamom plantations. Young leaves are popular with goats.
There are also plans to distribute young jackfruit trees to the public to grow in their backyards as part of the cultivation expansion plans.
Jackfruit from Kerala is organic and tasty because it is produced in a very natural way without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The government also organizes an annual âjackfruit festivalâ to popularize the fruit and its products to the public.
Besides the taste and nutritional qualities, the value of jackfruit wood is also high.
Jackfruit wood is widely used in the manufacture of furniture, doors and windows, and in the construction of roofs. It is termite resistant, resembles mahogany, and is superior to teak. The veena (an Indian plucked string musical instrument) made in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu from the dry wood of a jackfruit is called Thanjavurveena. It has excellent tonal quality which improves with the passage of time. He received a geographic identification mark.
Ambalavayil’s agricultural office in Wayanad (Kerala) will function as a jackfruit research station.
Jackfruit is a species of tree in the genus Artocarpus of the mulberry family (Moraceae). It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia and is believed to be native to the rainforests of southwest India, in present-day Kerala, the Karnataka coast, and Maharashtra.
Jackfruit is well adapted to the tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree fruit, reaching up to 36 kg in weight, 90 cm in length and 50 cm in diameter. The heaviest jackfruit weighed 42.72 kg and was found in Pune, Maharashtra, as verified on June 23, 2016. The giant jackfruit was 57.15 cm long and had a circumference of 132.08 cm.
Jackfruit is a widely cultivated and popular food in tropical areas of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc. In India, it grows mainly in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra as well as Bengal and Assam.
Jackfruit is also found throughout Africa as well as throughout Brazil and Caribbean countries such as Jamaica. It is also the national fruit of Bangladesh.
The word “jackfruit” comes from the Portuguese “jaca”, which, in turn, is derived from the Malayalam language spoken in the term “chakka” of Kerala. When the Portuguese arrived in India at Kozhikode (Calicut) on the Malabar (Kerala) coast in 1498, the Malayalam name chakka was recorded by Hendrik van Rheede (1678-1703) in Hortus Malabaricus, vol. iii in Latin. The common English name “jackfruit” was used by the physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his book published in 1563.
It is called kathal in Bengali, ‘katahal’ in Hindi, ‘pala-pazham’ in Tamil, ‘panasa’ in Telugu, ‘phanas’ in Marathi and Gujarati and ‘halasu’ in Karnataka.
What’s inside ?
Jackfruit contain a large number of seeds enclosed in a juicy yellow to orange sheath, and it is this sheath that forms the edible part of a jackfruit. There can be up to 100 seeds or more in a single jackfruit depending on its size.
Jackfruit give off a characteristic odor that is offensive to many. When fully ripe, uncut jackfruit gives off a strong, unpleasant odor, resembling that of rotten onions. If stored in an uncovered refrigerator, the smell permeates all stored food. Even if it is kept in a closed room, the smell of a ripe jackfruit will announce its presence to all visitors, right at the door.
The edible sheath contains 70 percent water and the rest is carbohydrate, protein and minerals. It is a rich source of vitamins A and C. There are two common varieties. The former has a crunchy or even brittle sweet fleshy sheath while the latter has a thin, slimy and even slightly bittersweet sheath. The sheaths of the first variety are cut into chips, dried, fried and sold as jackfruit chips like potato or tapioca or banana chips.
Cut into small pieces and devoured after soaking in honey or even otherwise, the sheaths of the second variety are a delight. They are made into small pancakes and dried in the hot sun like mango papad.
The seeds covered with a cashew skin – but not so hard – are cooked, shelled and eaten as peanuts or added to other vegetable curries. They are rich in starch and are a good source of vitamins B1 and B2. They are a popular ingredient in many culinary preparations in South India. Even flour made from shelled seeds is eaten. Poor farmers store them during rainy days and eat them during bad times. After removing the edible sweet portions and seeds, the rest is discarded and used as animal feed.
Unripe fruit is used as a vegetable and is considered meat for vegetarians, but cutting an unripe or even ripe jackfruit is an exercise in itself. When it is opened, a sappy and sticky substance (latex and not rubber) comes from the fruit. The younger jackfruit will have more. It is cut with a sharp knife coated with edible oil, and you have to rub your hands with oil to prevent the latex coming out of the fruit from touching the skin.
Usually jackfruit fans buy edible portions from a vendor instead of going through the ordeal of cutting a jackfruit.
By GV Joshi