My first experience with jackfruit was in the form of Cai Cai Dried Jackfruit Chips. Before I offer my own version of this event, let me share with you the description of this snack, straight from its purple packaging:
“The Cai Cai jackfruit chips dried fruit does not increase any food additive during the fresh fruit to dried fruit producing process. It completely retains the quality and the natural flavour of fruit flavour. It is very delicious and contains many kinds of vitamins and mineral substance which are good for health. It is a kinds of fashion and fallow foodstuff.”
Did you catch that? It’s a fashion and fallow foodstuff! I didn’t write that; they did. Apparently the concept of alliterative snacking is starting to catch on. I’m not quite sure what it means for a foodstuff to be fashion and fallow, but these jackfruit chips are the best example I could ever hope to find.
The chips themselves actually tasted quite good, with a flavor that was like a cross between a pineapple and a banana. After I finished these dried delicacies, I decided that it was time to go on a quest for a fresh jackfruit. Fortunately or unfortunately, this quest was not nearly as epic as the quest for the dragonfruit, and therefore no poem will be written about it.
The bag of jackfruit chips gives the impression that the jackfruit is sort of like a round, rough pear. Considering the size of the jackfruit chips, this seemed like a reasonable possibility. The reality turned out to be quite different. If the makers of Cai Cai Jackfruit Chips had intended to show a jackfruit at its actual size, they would have needed a much bigger bag. A whole jackfruit can weigh up to 80 pounds and is covered with short sharp spines. If you’ve ever worried about getting hit in the head by a falling coconut, you can rest assured that being bonked by a falling jackfruit would be ten times worse.
The whole jackfruit comes in its own box, and requires a machete or other large knife to cut it open. It also contains quite a bit of natural latex, which will make a mess of that machete if you don’t coat it with oil first. Also be sure to put down some waxed paper so that you don’t end up with latex all over the laboratory. Once the jackfruit is open, the edible part of the fruit can be removed by hand. The yellow-orange morsels are even tastier than their dried-fruit counterparts, and their tropical flavor is perfect for any time you want a strange snack. Just be careful when you’re cutting open this fashion and fallow foodstuff, and whatever you do, always watch for falling jackfruit!