How to Prepare a Jackfruit (Kha-nun ขนุน)



It used to be that once in a while hunks of fresh jackfruit would pop up randomly at some Asian and Hispanic markets in my neck of the woods causing me to mentally squeal with delight at such a rare sight. Most of the jackfruits you see in the US, according to my produce guy, come from Brazil. And though it bums me out a bit that the flesh of this cultivar is harder and much less sweet than that of the main cultivar found in Thailand, I’m too excited about having fresh jackfruits at all to complain about anything.

Nowadays, I’ve noticed that jackfruits are showing up at mainstream supermarkets in the US with higher and higher frequency. If you — perhaps out of curiosity — have bought, or are thinking about getting, a section of jackfruit, but don’t know what to do with it, I hope this post will help somewhat.

jackfruit

Whole jackfruits – these are considered smallish.

Truth be told, I’d never prepared a jackfruit growing up. I never had to do it. In Thailand, even though whole jackfruits can be seen all over town, rarely do people buy them whole and dissect them at home. The fruits are too big — not to mention prickly — to schlep around, and the process of separating the edible part out of the inedible is laborious and messy. Most, if not all, of the time, jackfruit vendors take care of the preparation and pack the edible flesh neatly in a box for your convenience.

Back then, even if I wanted to learn how to prepare a jackfruit, I never had a chance to do it. My grandparents had one jackfruit tree in their home2, but for some reason, we never let them grow into full-sized jackfruits; we always harvested them while they were still young and turned them into various savory dishes.3 And preparing a young jackfruit for cooking is entirely different from preparing a fully-developed and ripe jackfruit.

But it’s actually not that hard. Besides, your supermarket most likely sells jackfruits in 6- to 7-lb hunks like this which makes things much more manageable.

jackfruit
All you have to do is lubricate your hands with some vegetable oil. Jackfruit is very resinous, and the sticky substance is hard to remove even with soap and warm water. Also, by no means should you do this while wearing your favorite clothes.


Start off by removing the core by running the blade of a sharp knife along the core line. This is what holds the edible jackfruit pods together, and you want to set the pods free. The line between the core and the pods is very visible; you can’t miss it.

jackfruit
Once the core is removed, you’ll see the edible yellow pods that have these fibrous strands that look like sea anemones wrapped around them.

Slice off one pod like so.

jackfruit
With the help of a paring knife, remove the white strands and trim off the part that connects the pod to the prickly skin.

jackfruit recipe
What you have now is a jackfruit pod, all trimmed and almost ready to eat. There’s only one more step left before you can pop one into your mouth.

jackfruit how to prepare
Make a slit lengthwise along one side of the pod, exposing the pit that is attached to the bottom of the pod. Go around the pit base with your paring knife to separate it from the edible flesh. Be sure to remove the rubbery skin around the pit as well.

Don’t throw the pits away, though. Boil them for 20-30 minutes until they’re soft and eat them like you would roasted chestnuts. Delicious.

how to jackfruit
Now your jackfruit flesh is ready. You can eat it right out of hand. You can cut it lengthwise into thin strips and add them to various shaved ice desserts, e.g. Tab Tim Grob (mock pomegranate seeds in coconut cream). You can cut it a little more finely and fold it into Thai-style coconut ice cream. So many delicious possibilities.

Fresh jackfruit flesh can be stored in an airtight container, lined with a piece of paper towel, up to 3 days in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen. However, the texture changes somewhat once it’s thawed.

1 Jackfruit is one of those auspicious trees that people like to grow in their homes. This is due to its Thai name Kha-nun (ขนุน) the second syllable of which is homophonic to several Thai words with positive meanings along the lines of support, assistance, and sustenance.

2 Young jackfruits are too resinous and tannic to eat raw. They are prepared and used differently from ripe jackfruits. There will be more posts on this delicious fruit which, when unripe, is used as if it were a vegetable.

26 Responses to How to Prepare a Jackfruit (Kha-nun ขนุน)

  1. Sagacious May 20, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    Another great post, love the tutorial, We have jackfruit in our neighborhood, must look closer to see if its from Brazil. Cant’ sign in with my OysterCulture profile, and still catching up on all the posts I’ve missed lately.

  2. Tangled Noodle May 21, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Notwithstanding any early childhood experiences that I do not recall, I had not eaten fresh jackfruit (langka in Tagalog) until we moved here. The differences in taste, texture and aroma from the canned stuff are simply extraordinary!

    I had no idea that the pit could be eaten – I will be sure to ask about it at the market. If they are just discarded, perhaps I can wrangle some to take home and try your suggested preparation. Thanks for this great tutorial!

  3. Arwen May 21, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    I’ve only ever had jackfruit once, and it was served as an individual bulb so I didn’t have to do the hard work to get it. It’s very interesting that you can eat the seeds too.

  4. Yoga Girl May 22, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    What is the best way to clean the knife? I’m sure it would get very sticky too.

    • cajunwoman October 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      There is an easy way to clean your sticky knife. Either rub it with the oil used on your hands or rubbing alcohol will work too. Then wash in soapy water.

  5. Leela May 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Yoga Girl – Surprisingly, not so much. A quick swipe on the blade with the abrasive side of a wet, soapy kitchen sponge will do. The resin is more stubborn on human skin, for some reason.

  6. Tanvi May 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    In India, we roast the seeds on a shallow frying pan until soft and eat them like that! Absolutely delicious. My family teases me because sometimes I enjoy the seeds more than the flesh of the jackfruit.

  7. Leela May 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Tanvi – Ha! This is brilliant! I never knew jackfruit seeds can be cooked that way. It makes sense. Thank you.

  8. Colette May 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Do I miss jackfruit…my brother has been living in Brazil for over 8 years where I first discovered this delicate fruit (my number 2 after mangosteen, I reckon). There, I don’t know if in the US is the same, they have two types: the hard one (the pulp is like the one you show in the photos) and the soft one (much mushier in texture)…Everyone there has a favourite, mostly the hard one beats the other one in adepts, though. It’s definately a pain to clean, with that white sticky resin.There they use a plastic bag to wipe off the slimy glue, but in Thailand I saw a cleaner, much better better way to open up the whole fruit, avoiding getting in contact with the resin.The problem is…that I forgot about it!! (not that I will find it in Spain, but when I go visit, I always like to buy one).
    I didn’t know that the pips are edible, and I think that neither does my brother, thanks for the info…as for all your great posts!

  9. Mr. Retovado June 13, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    here in Negros island, philippines, we prepare unripe jackfruit for a dish called KBL kadyos (pigeon peas)-baboy (pork)-langka (jackfruit)… i don’t find the dish visually appealing but the taste is comforting and filling…

    http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/kbl-kadyos-baboy-at-langka-pppbj-pigeon-peas-pork-jackfruit
    http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/kadios-kadyos-pigeon-pea

  10. Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    I just saw jackfruit being used on East Str. They shredded it and grilled it with bbq sauce for Tacos. Everyone trying it seemed please. this tutorial was very beneficial and I look forward to trying it.

  11. Anonymous July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    I heart the jackfruit is good to control the high sugar for people has diabetes..

  12. IMTIAZ November 1, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    Dear Friend,
    I tasted it in Bangkok inter continental hotel ploenchit road,it is of sweet and buttery feelings in the mouth this was my ist time experience 26 july 2012, to taste it but became to know its name today from SHEsimmer
    Regard,
    IMTIAZ

  13. Qwill January 11, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    I have recently found an Asian market selling Jack Fruit and have prepared three whole ones so far. When I was about to open up our second one I got the idea to wear latex gloves to protect my hands while I cut it open on spread out newspapers. The latex gloves were the perfect solution for dealing with such a task! We are now fully hooked on this new to us tropical delight!

    • Leela January 11, 2013 at 6:52 am #

      Great tip, Qwill. Thank you.

  14. amanda February 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    I came across this site when researching jackfruit because we found and bought a fresh one at an asian grocery in chicago. We then realized every recipe called for YOUNG ones in a can. So then we got the can one too. We made both after having read that we could not use the part of the fresh one – — we dismantled the fresh one and took out the fruit part and the seeds (both delicious)….then we used the other part for the “shredded meat”.

    We made a taco recipe – and shockingly – the fresh worked WAY BETTER than the young one in the can. It was so much tastier – the can one tasted like chemicals. no one liked it in a group of six.

    So if anyone has a fresh one – go ahead and still cook with it, it’s wonderful – then you can get the fruit AND the seeds too! Triple bonus!

    • Leela February 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Good to know, Amanda, because I have not been able to find fresh young jackfruits at the stage before they develop these yellow sections inside anywhere in the US. Thank you.

  15. Korteztk February 14, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Can one use jackfruit in a savory Thai dish?

    I’m avoiding sweets until certain goals have been met …

    • Leela February 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Only young jackfruit is used in savory dishes (that’s when the fruit hasn’t developed these sweet yellow bulbs).

  16. Awgichew June 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Hello! Am from ethiopia,i have around 3 trees of jackfruit and it was matured but i have no full information about its consumption so if u have advanced over it i need your advise?thanks

  17. dman October 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Hey, don’t throw out the white strands, they’re edible too. I do mine as preserves. make sure all the green skin is removed and put them into a water and salt bath (use one cup salt for every 5 lbs of fruit) and barely cover them in water. Let them soak for 24 hours then a light washing to remove the salt. Cook the fruit for 5 minutes in clear water then place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking and the fruits will be firm and pliable. Use 8 oz. jars and fill the jar with the drained fruit. Now prepare the spiced vinegar. you need 4c. white vinegar; 1/2c. sugar; 4 tbsp horseradish; 1 tbsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. allspice;1tbsp white mustard seeds (1 tsp of dry wasabi will work well); 1 tsp whole cloves; and 2 tsp. celery seed. Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and CAREFULLY cover each jar with the pickle juice and put the lids on tight and sterilize at 240 (f) for 5 minutes. Cool and label each jar with the contents and month and year.

    • Leela October 30, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      dman – At first, I thought you meant the stringy white strands around the edible pods of a mature jackfruit which are shown here. But reading through the instructions, I’m thinking you probably meant the flesh of young jackfruit (before the yellow, sweet pods are fully formed) which is routinely used in savory dishes (sold brined and canned in the US) and is different from the white strands that are discarded. Which were you referring to?

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