The fruit, called Artocarpus heterophyllus in Latin and jaca, yaca, jack or panapén in Spanish, stinks and, if not treated in some way, will keep for a couple of weeks. However, in countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, people consume it alone and prepare a wide variety of dishes with it.
In Bangladesh "it is often considered the second most important crop after mango," Nyree Zerega, a biologist at the Chicago Botanical Garden, told Business Insider. As he explains, in this country almost every home has a space for a jackfruit tree, from which both fruit and wood take advantage.
A jackfruit tree can bear up to 150 fruits in two harvest seasons in one year. Each fruit can weigh up to 35 kilos and measure up to a meter, although they are usually smaller. The fruits consist of hundreds of lobules rich in vitamin C with a seed packed with protein, potassium, calcium and iron.
The nutritional value of 100 grams of this fruit is 105 calories.
That is, a single fruit can serve as a dinner for an entire family, according to Zerega. And not only because of its size and the calories it contains, but also because of the wide variety of dishes that can be prepared with it, perhaps more than with any other crop. It can be eaten ripe or still green, raw or cooked for hours. It can be dried, roasted, preserved, and even ground into flour.
However, in India, a country where 180 million people live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank, people hardly eat jackfruit and 75% waste it.
That's primarily due to its reputation as a fruit of the poor, according to Zerega. "Ironically, in the homeland of jackfruit we still don't understand its importance," journalist Shree Padre, from the Indian state of Kerala, who seeks to popularize the fruit, complains to Business Insider.
The leaves of the tree are used to feed animals on farms, while its orange bark is traditionally used to dye monks' clothing. The tree also produces a sticky substance that can serve as glue. In addition, since it is a tree and does not have to be replanted every year, growing it is much easier than cereals such as corn, for example, recalls the portal.