The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), also known as jack tree, is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family (Moraceae). Its native range is unknown but most sources place its center of origin in the region between the Western Ghats of southern India to the rainforests of Borneo.
The jack tree is well-suited to tropical lowlands, and it bears the largest fruit of all trees, reaching as much as 55 kg (120 lb) in weight, 90 cm (35 in) in length, and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter. A mature jack tree can produce about 100–200 fruits in a year. The jackfruit is a multiple fruit composed of hundreds to thousands of individual flowers, and the fleshy petals of the unripe fruit are eaten. The immature fruit (commercially labeled as young jackfruit) has a mild taste and meat-like texture that lends itself to being a meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. The ripe fruit can be much sweeter (depending on variety) and is more often used for desserts.
Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. Both the ripe seeds and the unripe fruit are consumed. The jack tree is widely cultivated throughout tropical regions of the world. The jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and the state fruit of the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The fruit is available in foreign markets in the form of various products, like noodles and chips. It is also available canned or frozen as a "vegetable" or as a sweet fruit in syrup.
Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet, with subtle flavoring. It can be used to make a variety of dishes, including custards, cakes, or mixed with shaved ice as es teler in Indonesia or halo-halo in the Philippines. For the traditional breakfast dish in southern India, idlis, the fruit is used with rice as an ingredient and jackfruit leaves are used as a wrapping for steaming. Jackfruit dosas can be prepared by grinding jackfruit flesh along with the batter. Ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes seeded, fried, or freeze-dried and sold as jackfruit chips.
The seeds from ripe fruits are edible, and are said to have a milky, sweet taste often compared to Brazil nuts. They may be boiled, baked, or roasted. When roasted, the flavor of the seeds is comparable to chestnuts. Seeds are used as snacks (either by boiling or fire-roasting) or to make desserts. In Java, the seeds are commonly cooked and seasoned with salt as a snack. They are quite commonly used in curry in India in the form of a traditional lentil and vegetable mix curry.