Jackfruit is a unique tropical fruit that is growing in popularity worldwide. With its sweet flavor and meaty texture, it’s no wonder why people are eager to learn how to prep and eat this exotic delicacy. However, cutting jackfruit can seem intimidating at first due to its large, spiky exterior. The good news is that armed with the right tools and techniques, cutting jackfruit is easy. This article will provide a step-by-step guide to safely and efficiently cut jackfruit with a knife.
- 1 An Introduction to Jackfruit
- 2 Selecting and Preparing a Jackfruit
- 3 Cutting a Jackfruit in Half
- 4 Removing the Rind
- 5 Slicing the Flesh and Bulbs
- 6 Prepping for Recipes
- 7 Proper Knife Safety
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Get Cutting!
An Introduction to Jackfruit
Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, growing up to 80 pounds on average. It originated in India over 3000 years ago and is now cultivated throughout many tropical regions including Southeast Asia, Brazil, Africa, and Australia.
The exterior of a jackfruit has a rough, knobby appearance and is comprised of hundreds of spike-like projections. Inside each fruit are hundreds of edible bulbs, referred to as jackfruit “bulbs” or “flakes”, that are surrounded by a sticky, sweet yellow flesh. Both the bulbs and flesh are edible.
Unripe jackfruit has a neutral flavor and meat-like texture similar to pulled pork or shredded chicken when cooked. Ripe jackfruit is sweet with a mango-banana taste. The ripe flesh and bulbs are popular ingredients in desserts.
While purchasing pre-cut packaged jackfruit is an option, learning how to properly cut a whole jackfruit achieves maximum freshness and reduces food waste. With the proper cutting technique, you can enjoy this unique fruit in curries, stir-fries, tacos, and more!
Selecting and Preparing a Jackfruit
Picking the right jackfruit to cut is the first step. For savory dishes that use unripe jackfruit, look for a fruit that is firm with green, unyielding spikes. Ripe jackfruit suitable for sweet dishes will have a strong fruity aroma, yellow-brown spikes, and may have small splits in the rind. The heavier the fruit, the more flesh it contains.
Once you have selected a jackfruit, the next step is gathering the proper cutting tools. These include:
- Chef’s knife with 6 inch or longer blade
- Cutting board
- Vegetable oil
- Kitchen gloves
- Paper towels or clean rag
Ensure your cutting board provides ample space to safely cut the large fruit. Wearing kitchen gloves helps protect your hands from the sticky sap released when cutting jackfruit. It’s also smart to have paper towels or a clean rag nearby to wipe off excess sap from your knife.
Before cutting, rinse the fruit and pat dry. Then, use a chef’s knife to cut off the stem end and root end of the jackfruit first. This creates a flat base that helps keep the fruit steady as you slice it.
Cutting a Jackfruit in Half
With the ends removed, now it’s time to split the jackfruit in half. Follow these steps:
- Place the jackfruit on a sturdy cutting board or counter, stem-side up.
- Locate the fruit’s natural seam that divides the two halves. This seam runs from the stem end to the root end.
- Take your chef’s knife and carefully slice alongside the seam, cutting from one end to the other. Apply even pressure as you cut.
- Twist the halves in opposite directions to fully separate.
Be patient and work methodically during this process. Rushing the cut or forcing the knife increases your chance of slippage.
If needed, cut off any remaining core or pith in the center to fully separate the halves.
Removing the Rind
With the jackfruit split, it’s time to remove the rind. The rind is covered in a natural latex that can stick to your knife, so dipping your blade in oil first helps it glide smoothly. Follow these steps:
- Apply a light coat of vegetable oil on your knife’s blade.
- Locate the seam between the rind and the flesh.
- Insert the tip of your oiled knife into the seam.
- Work the knife in between the rind and flesh, moving slowly to avoid tearing the soft fruit inside.
- Once enough space has been created, slide the entire blade underneath the rind. Keep it flat against the cutting board.
- Carefully slice off the rind, working from one end of the jackfruit half to the other.
- Repeat for the second half.
Slicing the Flesh and Bulbs
After removing the rind, the edible jackfruit flesh and bulb sections will be exposed. To separate these pieces:
- Place a jackfruit half on the cutting board, flesh-side up.
- Make vertical and horizontal slices into the flesh to create cube-shaped pieces.
- Lift bulb sections out whole or slice them into pieces.
- Transfer sliced jackfruit sections to a bowl.
- Repeat the steps for the remaining half.
Pro Tip: Collect any sticky jackfruit sap in a small bowl rather than letting it coat your cutting board.
Prepping for Recipes
Once cut, jackfruit needs to be properly prepared depending on the intended use.
For unripe jackfruit, the slices are often boiled then fried or baked to mimic pulled meat. Boiling helps soften the firm flesh.
Ripe jackfruit can be enjoyed raw. Simply toss the prepped slices or chunks into your favorite smoothie, fruit salad, or dessert.
No matter what type of dish you are making, thoroughly rinse the jackfruit first and pat dry. This prevents any lingering latex from spoiling the flavor.
Proper Knife Safety
Cutting jackfruit does involve knives, so adhering to proper knife safety is crucial:
- Use a sharp knife – dull blades require more force and are prone to slipping.
- Cut on a sturdy cutting board. No cutting “free hand”.
- Keep knife grip secure as you slice.
- Slice away from your body. Never cut towards your hand.
- Move slowly and carefully during the process.
- Store knives properly when not in use.
Following basic knife safety greatly reduces the risk of any nicks or cuts.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about cutting jackfruit with a knife:
What type of knife is best for cutting jackfruit?
A chef’s knife with a 6-inch or longer blade works very well. The long, sharp blade can slice through the tough rind and soft flesh with ease.
Can I cut jackfruit with a serrated knife?
Yes, a serrated bread knife can be used to cut the fruit in half and remove the rind. However, a non-serrated chef’s knife provides the control needed for clean slices when portioning the flesh.
Should I use kitchen gloves for cutting jackfruit?
Wearing kitchen gloves is highly recommended to protect your hands from the sticky latex sap. The sap can irritate skin and is challenging to remove without oil or soap.
Does cutting jackfruit cause it to brown quickly?
Yes, exposure to air causes jackfruit flesh to oxidize and brown rapidly. To prevent this, rub slices with lemon juice and store them in an airtight container if not using immediately.
Can I freeze jackfruit slices or chunks after prepping?
Absolutely. Cut, boiled, and cooled jackfruit can be frozen in airtight bags or containers for up to 6 months. Frozen ripe jackfruit works great in smoothies.
With the proper tools, a few easy techniques, and solid knife skills, you can conquer cutting jackfruit in no time. Always put safety first by working slowly and with care. Properly stored and prepared jackfruit yields a delicious, versatile ingredient that takes both sweet and savory dishes to new heights. Armed with this guide, get excited to add jackfruit to your kitchen creations.