Jackfruit is grown throughout the tropics but is thought to have originated in this area of India, archaeological evidence shows that it was cultivate in India 3,000 years ago – and maybe as long as 6,000 years ago!
It has the largest fruit growing on any tree, weighing up to 80lbs (36kg)! It can be 3 feet (90cm) long and 20 inches (50cm) in diameter. It is so big and heavy that it grows directly from the trunk of the tree rather than from a branch.
The fruit can be eaten fresh or sometimes as chips (deep fried like banana chips – if fried in coconut oil the taste is fantastic!). It has a very strong, pungent scent (hence the title of this post!) but the fruit is sweet and a great source of fibre in your diet.
In India jackfruit wood is used to make the body of a stringed instrument called a veena and drums called kanjira and mridangam. The best quality jackfruit timber is a beautiful yellow colour with a clear and distinct grain which is used for building houses and making furniture in parts of southern India. In Hindu ceremonies in Kerala the priest often sits on a polished plank of wood from the jackfruit. In parts of southeast Asia Buddhist monks use the heartwood of the tree to make a dye for their robes (it is light-brown in colour and mainly used by Buddhists who follow the Thai forest tradition).
During jackfruit season you will see stalls all along the sides of the road selling the fruit to hungry passers-by. But it’s not only humans who like the taste as you can see from these pictures taken in Thekkady (on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala).