The jackfruit has a green rind with closely-spaced short spikes that either remains green or turns yellow-brown when fully ripe. When it starts to ripen in the tree, it will start to emit a strong pungent smell, the fruit’s way of saying that you should start looking for it in the tree because it will be ready for consumption in a few days. If the fruit is very big and heavy, it may need to be taken down even before it is fully ripe so that it will not fall to the ground and break due to its heavy weight.
You will know that the fruit is fully ripe and ready to eat when it yields to moderate pressure and produces a dull, hollow sound when tapped.
The fruit is usually opened using a sharp knife that should first be wiped with oil because the rind and core contains sticky, white latex.
Inside the fruit are white non-edible “rags” that surround large, yellow sheaths that enclose smooth, oval, light-brown seeds. A single fruit may produce 100 to 500 seeds depending on variety and size.
Once the fruit is opened, almost everyone seems to agree that the strong, penetrating smell is sweet, like a combination of pineapple and bananas. Depending on variety, the sheaths can be soft, fibrous, mushy and very sweet or almost crunchy but not quite sweet. The fruit tastes delicious and also described as a cross between pineapple and banana, a flavor that does not appeal to people who are unfamiliar with the fruit.
The seeds can be boiled or roasted and taste like chestnuts, and the sheaths can be made into candies and jams. The young unripe fruits are also cooked and eaten in Southeast Asia.
Jackfruit is called by various names around the world. It is called khanun in Thailand; mit in Vietnam and nangka in Malaysia and the Philippines.