When Jack came home

Jack comes home, and no one is happy about it.

Last Sunday when I brought Jack home, it was my daughter (no more a teenager I could just brush off, for she is now an Engineering Graduate) exclaimed: ‘Don’t bring it inside. Either I stay or it.’

I pacified her saying: ‘When it ripens I will take it out’ so that the entire household is saved from the strong sweet smell a ripe jackfruit emanates.

For nearly a week it stayed wrapped in swathes of newspapers under the wooden cot. Every night it was taken out and moved to the front room. As the day began it was shifted back to its original resting place. It’s not an easiest fruit for  it gives off a strong odour, and oozes a thick white sap.

This morning wifey decided that the jackfruit, weighing around 10kgs, be cut and the fruit distributed to friends. Our three-room flat with all the windows and doors open smelt like a ‘phanas wadi’! There was no escaping its powerful smell of decay.

We all toyed with the question was: who will cut the fruit?

‘Let me call GN,’ said wifey.

GN is our family friend, originally from Kannur (Kerala) and now a Dombivali resident is an expert on cutting a jackfruit, at least better than any of us.

‘By the time she reaches us you all will be driven outdoors by the fruit’s strong odour,’ I said.

‘Just check youtube, may be there is a video,’ suggested by newly minted Engineer-daughter.

I thought at last the Moto G was being put to good use beside reddit.com and other websites she is always hooked to. Youtube did have the videos, the wikis its tutorials but all were about ‘how to cut an unripe jackfruit’ but none one ‘how to cut a ripened one’.

I got down to business smearing my palms with ground nut oil and ready with a serrated knife.

‘Slice it horizontally not vertically,’ advised my all-knowing wifey who has never handled a jackfruit. Her familiarity with the fruit is limited to seeing the fruit pods sold on carts.


I did her bidding thinking there was no harm doing it horizontally. As I sliced the fruit  open I realised it was a Koozha Chakka variety, as the Mallus call it. The fruits of which have small, fibrous, soft, mushy, but very sweet carpels unlike the Varika variety which are sold commercially, with crisp carpels of high quality.

The central core is just like a pineapple. I cut the bulbs from its base, pulled them out and removed chunk of the white fibres.  Then peeled back the white fibres (actually they are immature fruits) surrounding the fruit.

Looking at it wifey remarked, ‘See how the fruits too take so much care of their progeny…putting a wall of fibre around the fruit.’

I can say from my experience that it’s true that if you just eat 10 or 12 bulbs of this fruit, you don’t need food for another half a day. The fruit is rich in potassium, calcium, and iron, making it more nutritious than current starchy staples. In addition to its high nutritional value, the fruit is very versatile for the seeds, young fruit, and mature varieties are all edible.

Meanwhile James Joseph, founder of JackFruit365™, an initiative to create an organised market for jackfruits in India, writes in The Hindu that unripe jackfruit is a remedy for diabetes referring to a report published by U.P.K. Hettiaratchi, S. Ekanayake and J. Welihinda in Ceylon Medical Journal.

Sri Lanka is the only other place on earth where unripe jackfruit meal is also used as a carbohydrate replacement. “The study clearly showed a sharp decline in sugar level 30 minutes after meal consumption. The reasons cited are low sugar level in raw jackfruit combined with high dietary fibre. I got the nutritional values of unripe jackfruit tested and verified; it only has 1/5th the sugar of the ripe version and 60 per cent of its dietary fibre is insoluble,” he writes.

As cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr. Sriram Nene told Joseph, “Diabetes is on the order of an epidemic in India and the cure may lie in the humble jackfruit, which grows abundantly. While the Ceylon Medical Journal study has small numbers, its results are fairly provocative and should definitely stimulate added investigation in the use of unripe jackfruit as part of diabetic diet.”


2 thoughts on “When Jack came home

  1. s ghosh

    It is a challenge for a food technologist to preserve jack fruit juice. Once done, it will serve millions from starvation. The fruit grows in plenty and get spoiled also in plenty.

  2. The moot question, at least in the parts of Kerala that I have visited, is who will fell the jack. No one is willing to climb the tree, tie a sturdy rope to the fruit and the gently ease it to the ground. I have heard at least one verified story of a person getting killed by a jackfruit falling from the tree (someone was too lazy to use a rope or tie it properly). All of us love the fruit and are partial to chakkavaratty–a ghee and jack combination cooked over a slow fire for a long time. You do get in stores but it is no match to the homemade variety I have had the good fortune to taste. Alas! The cook is now too old and feeble and just lets the jacks go waste.

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