What is Langka (Jackfruit) ? An underutilized crop that is part of the breadfruit, mulberry and fig family. It is deliciously chewy and nutrition packed, with even lower calories than rice or corn. This tropical fruit grows around Asia, South America, and Africa, distinguished by the small dull spiked bumpy skin and vibrant yellow fibrous flesh. It recently has been sought-after by many vegans, vegetarians, and those who just want to add more fruit and fiber into their diet. Especially since the wave of so many dietary restrictions and diet fads, the jackfruit is mild enough that it’s easily flavored and used as meat replacement, but still flavorful enough to add on into desserts to showcase its natural flavor.
A Short Introduction
Originating from Southern India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. The name ‘Jackfruit’ came from the Portuguese word ‘jaca’ coming from the Malayalam language ‘chakka’. It was introduced to India in 1499. First domesticated by Austronesians in the Malay or Java Peninsula, introduced to Guam by Filipino settlers when both were conquered by the Spanish. This ‘fruity’ fruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.
The common name Jackfruit was found in a 1563 book ‘Colòquios dos simples e drogas da India’ by Garcia de Orta, with the name being used since then. The fruit takes place on the trunks and branches of tall Jackfruit trees that can grow till 30 to 50 feet, require little care once you have it started, harvested before they drop down on their own accord, waiting for it to fall means that the fruit is too overripe. The jackfruit does not need constant replanting. This perennial fruit takes 5 to 7 years to bear fruit, and yields around the 150 to 200 range of fruits. Typically picked in the summer, it has a distinctive aroma of pineapple, banana, and bubblegum combined, sometimes said to smell a bit musky. What does jackfruit taste like? The vibrant yellow meat tastes like a chewy sweet combination of mango, banana, and pineapple. It tastes very close to that of a Juicy fruit gum.
A widely cultivated in tropical to subtropical climates, these have shorty, blunt, spiky, green skin almost similar to that of a durian, sliced open to reveal a multitude of fleshy poppy yellow colored meat, eaten as is or added into savory dishes or sweet and ‘healthy’ desserts, or recently an ingredient used to create ‘fake meat’, for those who are doing a vegetarian diet.
Langka Benefits (Jackfruit uses)
Is jackfruit healthy? A monstrously large super-fruit bought as a whole fruit at wet markets or grocery stores, or for convenience, can be bought in most international stores sold frozen or canned. With an increase of popularity in recent years, why should you add the Langka fruit (jackfruit) in your diet?
- Helps with blood sugar management. Being a fruit that is high in fiber, it also helps in digestion which in turn helps prevent blood sugar levels from rising.
- High fiber food also help with weight loss, and keeping the gut healthy, avoids constipation and many other stomach problems.
- Contains high amounts of Vitamin C, flavanoids, and carotenoids, which have anti inflammatory properties, that keep from chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
- Rich in antioxidants, that help slow down the aging of skin, and immunity.
How to cut and eat Jackfruit:
Make sure you’ve bought a ripe jackfruit by making a slight core or small carving on the side, pulling the skin with some of the meat out. These should look juicy. There is usually an indent already made by the vendor, but if there is none, usually vendors can help you check it out.
- From the stem of the jackfruit, slice around 1 inch away creating a lid/opening. Don’t worry if you slice too deep. Do not open the top yet.
- With the same knife, this time apply some oil onto the blade and to the hands to avoid the sticky residue once we open the jackfruit. Use any oil.
- Option 1: Slice lengthwise from the unopened lid till the end. Stretch the sliced part to open up the fruit.
- Option 2: Slice in a spiral motion about ¾ to 1 inch deep from the beginning of the lid to the end of the fruit. Making sure there is a big enough gap from each spiral made. Pull the skin, to get to the meat.
- Take the skin off, using the knife to help you out. Remove the shards which are the white parts you see around the meat, and seeds. Or if you’d like, similar to the durian, keep the seeds to be boiled or roasted to make them edible.
- You’ll notice that the fruit or meat are encased in thread like filaments, take this off as well.
- To store this, place this in an airtight container or zip lock bag, keep in the fridge up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Langka (Jackfruit) in Filipino Cuisine?
‘Langka’ or ‘Jackfruit’ in English, is often eaten once it’s ripe as is, added as a topping on halo-halo or filling in turon. And many more dishes. While Langka might be a common fruit added into dishes, especially desserts, it’s not that common to buy the whole fruit regularly unless there’s a party, or for it to be added to savory dishes to feed a crowd . It’s seen as a treat usually bought canned or bottled in syrup. Here are some common ways Filipinos enjoy Langka recipes (how to cook jackfruit):
- Halo-halo, the best way to beat the summer heat, this icy dessert attracts you with all the colorful ingredients decorated all over the tall glass it comes in.
- Ginataang Langka, is a mix of pork and jackfruit stewed in coconut milk, shrimp paste, chilies and other spices. Making this a sweet and savory dish perfect to add on top of rice.
- In ice cream. Aside from being a flavoring to ice cream, these are also added chopped as filling.
- As a shake or smoothie, some add these with celery sticks for a high fiber drink.
- For the more modern foodie, you can find it shredded and cooked similarly to how you would with meat. Turn it into jackfruit pulled pork by seasoning these with BBQ sauce, Italian seasoning, smoke seasoning and any other that you’d like to make it into.
The jackfruit, a versatile nutritious fruit that is sweet enough to be treated as dessert, but mild enough to be added into savory dishes and made into a meat substitute. Will confidently be staying as one of the most unique adaptable fruit there is.