If you’re wondering “when is jackfruit ripe?”, then you’ve come to the right place. This fruit can be tricky when it comes to determining ripeness for several different reasons. Read on to learn some tried-and-true methods for finding out when it’s at the perfect ripeness for your needs.
When is Jackfruit Ripe?
The first clue that will tell you whether a jackfruit is ripe or not is the color of its rind. An immature, under-ripe jackfruit’s skin is bright green, with firm spikes all over it.
As the fruit ripens, that green gives way to yellow splotches. You’ll know that jackfruit has reached full ripeness when the outer skin has turned a uniform yellow hue. Additionally, those spikes will have softened so you can push into them a bit, and the flesh itself should “give” a little when you press into it.
Then there’s the smell.
Ripe jackfruit has a particularly funky odor that’s hard to miss once you’ve smelled it: sort of like a cross between armpit and sickly sweet garbage can. As you can imagine, this draws a lot of flies, which help to disperse the ripe fruit’s seeds. In contrast, ripe jackfruit flesh tastes like a combination of mango, banana, and pineapple. If you can get past how it smells on the outside, you’re in for a treat once you scoop out the delicious innards.
Further Reading: Where to Find Jackfruit at the Grocery Store
How Can I Tell if Jackfruit is Overripe?
Remember that nauseating smell we mentioned above? This will get even more intense if the jackfruit is overly ripe. Furthermore, the beautiful yellow skin will have brown patches all over it.
The spikes will be brownish and squishy instead of slightly pliant to the touch, and the fruit’s already funky odor will be even stronger. If it’s incredibly overripe, juice might start leaking out of the fruit’s stem end.
A perfectly ripened jackfruit will be rounded and quite firm. If it looks like a collapsed football, it’s “off”.
Will Jackfruit Ripen After Picking?
It will, yes! In fact, this is how jackfruit is transported to food markets all over the world. It’s harvested when very underripe, so the fruits are still intensely green. They continue to ripen on transport vehicles as they make their way to North America, Europe, and Australia.
They should have ripened significantly by the time they’re displayed at your local Asian or Caribbean food market.
Will Jackfruit Ripen After It Is Cut?
That’s also a “yes”. If you’re planning to use under-ripe jackfruit for savory dishes, but you only want to use it a bit at a time, you’ll have to freeze it. Otherwise, the parts you don’t use immediately will ripen on your counter really quickly.
Your best bet is to portion it out and pack it into freezer bags. Alternatively, you could cook all of it at once and then freeze the prepared jackfruit instead. Ultimately, it all depends on what you intend to use it for.
Would you like to use it for vegan “crab” cakes, mock pulled pork or chicken, etc? Or do you want to experiment with a variety of different flavors and recipes?
If you’d like to experiment, then freeze it raw and untreated. In contrast, if you already have a favorite recipe and want to eat that repeatedly over the next few months, then flavor and cook it first.
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What to Do With Unripe Jackfruit?
Here’s the good news: unripe jackfruit has a neutral flavor and hasn’t developed much sweetness yet. This makes it absolutely ideal as a plant-based meat substitute. All those BBQ jackfruit recipes use unripe fruit specifically for this reason. Once it’s ripe, it gets soft and sugary and is only usable for dessert dishes.
Try that unripe jackfruit in many different delicious recipes. This way, you can determine which ones you like best, and adapt them to your usual cooking routine.
Freeze whatever you don’t use, as mentioned, so nothing goes to waste. Alternatively, you can look into other preservations methods. For example, you can try to dehydrate it into jackfruit jerky, or try canning it instead. Just remember that you’ll need a pressure canner if you want to preserve it that way. Jackfruit is considered low acid and thus has to be pressurized with extra heat to make it safe for storage.
Jackfruit Ripe vs. Unripe – What’s the Difference?
As mentioned, there are a few major differences between unripe and fully ripe jackfruit.
When you tap a ripe jackfruit, it’ll sound hollow—just like a ripe watermelon. Unripe jackfruit sounds more solid when you tap it.
Super-unripe jackfruit is bright green in color, with hard spines. As it ripens, it turns golden yellow, and the spines soften. When it’s overly ripe, it’ll be golden-brown with droopy spines.
Underripe jackfruit tastes like a slightly rubbery potato. Seriously, it hardly has any real flavor of its own to speak of, which is why it takes on spices and marinades so well. You can cook it and pull it apart for tacos, spear it onto sticks for BBQ kebabs, bake it into pot pies—the sky’s the limit here.
Meanwhile, ripe jackfruit is sweet and juicy. It’s lovely as it is, or used in smoothies. You can even puree it and freeze it into popsicles or ice cream.
Read This Next: What does BBQ Jackfruit Taste Like?
When jackfruit is underripe, the raw flesh inside is firm and chewy. It gets stringy and pulls apart easily once cooked, rather like pulled pork or chicken. If you’ve ever scraped a fork across spaghetti squash, you’ll have an idea about it.
In contrast, ripe jackfruit is rather mushy and has a silken, almost slimy texture.
Now that you know when jackfruit is at its ideal ripeness, you know what to look for when you go shopping. Just remember that these things are heavy, so you might want to hit the weights for a week or two before carrying one home.