The jack tree is a tree species in the mulberry and fig family. However, the jackfruit is the gentle giant in the family. Tough and spiky on the outside, but sweet and tender on the inside. Actually, it’s the biggest tree fruit in the world. While Jackfruit products now seemingly pop up out of nowhere in the western world, they have been a valuable asset to humans in the South and Southeast Asia for centuries. They are viewed as a secure food crop and are a much-desired ingredient in a variety of Asian staple dishes. There’s a variety of different jackfruit species, that can be harvested at different times to increase the potentially culinary uses even more.
More than its different sub-species, jackfruit products are differentiated between young/green jackfruit and mature jackfruit. The young jackfruit is harvested prematurely. While the jackfruit won’t have developed its taste yet, its fruit flesh will be much more tender much like pulled pork. This makes it a unique mock meat popular with vegetarians worldwide.
The mature jackfruit’s attributes are very different. It has a somewhat crunchy texture and an overpowering sweet fruity taste that is likened to blueberries and bananas. This version of jackfruit is mostly enjoyed raw or as processed chips. Either way, they are a hearty, healthy and exotic snack of choice for many fruit-connoisseurs.
In our online shop, you can find both of these versions of jackfruit. You can find our young tender jackfruit in four different preparations. A natural, unprocessed version that enables you to get creative in the kitchen, as well as three convenient ready-to-eat meals (Curry, Teriyaki and Goulash), so you can get a hearty exotic meal in mere minutes. The mature Jackfruit can be purchased a crunchy chips, which make for a convenient and unique snack.
While most people view all jackfruits as the same, there’s a surprisingly significant variation in terms of taste, texture and growth patterns within its sub-species. There’s the Red Jackfruit, a variety from West Borneo, that has gorgeous red flesh. There’s Nangka Cempedak a type, that smells like Durian. Another fruit that is known for its stinky smell, but very popular with streets vendors in Indonesia. The tree of Nangka mini only grows around 4 meters high, but bears, albeit small fruits, after only 9 to 12 months. There’s Nangka Celeng a Javanese variety, whose fruits grow very low, often touching the ground. As a result, it is very popular with the local wild boars. However, the most sought after jackfruit variety is known as Nangka Salak. It is a classic in Central Java and has been grown there for decades. It’s crunchy texture, and well-balanced sweet taste makes it the variety of choice for Lotao’s Jackfruit chips.
Lotao’s Nangka Salak is produced at an all-organic agriculture cooperative in Banjarnegara. A particularly foresty region in Central Java. The producer and exporter’s of Lotao’s Jackfruit are not only organically certified by the Indonesian government, but are also EU and USDA approved, abiding by strictly controlled regulations. The farmers grow organic Jackfruit, amongst other organic fruit crops. This results in a striving polyculture, this means the cooperative does not face many of the inheritable risks and complications of notorious monocultures. It creates an atmosphere, where humans, flora, and fauna are allowed to thrive and where diversity ensures stability within the ecosystem.
To ensure the unique qualities of our Jackfruit makes it all the way to Europe, a sophisticated preservation process is crucial. Lotao’s Jackfruit Chips are carefully air dried in order to preserve the color, fragrance and vitamins as accurately as possible. Our Jackfruit Chips thus retain most of the qualitative properties of our raw Jackfruit. In addition, we do not use any palm oil during this conservation processes.
Palm oil monocultures currently wreak havoc across Indonesian rainforests and as such you will not find palm oil in any of Lotaos products.
Like many aspects of traditional Indonesian life, the jackfruit tree is another source of strange myths and superstitions. In Java, many households plant jackfruit tree in front of their home to attract good spirits. The big shadow cast by the tree is believed to make it a more comfortable gathering place for ghosts. Meanwhile in Nusa Tenggara (Archipelago in East Indonesia), the locals believe rather the opposite. A jackfruit tree is planted to keep evil spirits away from home.
No matter what belief, the jackfruit is viewed as an important asset, providing security. Whether as a reliable food source or spiritual bodyguard. The hardwood of the jackfruit tree is also culturally significant since it is used to carve the drum barrels of gamelan a traditional set of drums originating from Java and Bali.
Banjarnegara, the foresty region in Central Java, where Lotao’s organic jackfruit is being grown, is of particular importance. It is a major Jackfruit supplier for the nearby sultanate of Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta has its own government within Indonesia and is unique in many ways. The city boasts many nicknames. It is often called student city, due to its large student population taking advantage of the quality of education provided by the sultanate. Another popular nickname is Kota Gudeg or Gudeg City. Named after the cities most sought after traditional dish called Gudeg: Young Jackfruit Is stewed for many hours together with coconut milk and palm sugar. It is usually often served with rice, garlic, shallots, candlenuts, coriander seeds, bay leaves, and teak leaves. While it is often served with chicken, egg or beef skin, its basic vegetarian version served with rice is considered a hearty and filling meal. The demand for Gudeg immense and Yogyakarta even has its own street, packed with dedicated Gudeg stalls and Restaurants. Reading this made your mouth water? Get a hold of the spices mentioned above (particularly teak leaves are essential to achieving the typical reddish-brown color), as well as Lotao’s Palm Sugar and Jackfruit Natur and give it a try yourself. It is a dish unlike anything else.
Similar to Indonesia, the growth and consumption of Jackfruit have had a long history in India. As such, it is also a source of numerous myths and staple dishes. Vegetarian Indian cuisine and Jackfruit go hand in hand at any time of the day. Idlis, a traditional South Indian breakfast dish, where jackfruit and rice is wrapped in Jackfruit leaves to be steamed. Or for a warming lunch or dinner, incorporating jackfruit into many kinds of lentil and vegetable curries. Besides its tasty fruits, India also greatly benefits from the Jack tree’s resilient and termite-proof wood. The golden-yellow material is used to build high-quality furniture and house construction.
An archaeological discovery has revealed, that Indians already cultivated Jackfruit around 3000 to 6000 years ago. As of today, India has become the top producer of Jackfruit with more than 1.4 million tonnes in 2017. India clearly takes pride in their thriving Jackfruit industry, with the provinces of Tamil Nadu and Kerala both having declared Jackfruit as their official state fruit, the latter one just recently in 2018. The culturally inherent worship for the Jackfruit dates back much longer; however, as Sacred Jackfruit Tree in Manipur demonstrates. The original location of this Jackfruit Tree has been declared a historic site. According to the legend, the 18th century’s King of Manipur, Rajarshi Chandra had a dream, where Krishna commanded him to carve seven images of himself from the tree. It took three years to carve these images and they have been installed in numerous temples in and around Manipur.
Following this 3000-6000-year-old tradition of growing Indian Jackfruit, Lotao sources its tender, young jackfruit from North-Indian farming cooperation, where the fruit is still harvested by hand. Just like our Indonesian Source, this Indian cooperation prides itself at being both, EU organic and USDA organic-certified. In addition is it supported by development project initiated by the European Union. Lotao and its partners strive to further commercialize the local production of organic jackfruit. The farmers further benefit by receiving agricultural education, as well as young jackfruit trees free of charge. This initiative is meant to establish sustainable and organic agriculture and thus steer away from the plight of monocultures. Common companion crops growing symbiotically amongst jackfruit trees are: herbs used for tee production (peppermint, verbena, rose bushes etc.), vanilla orchids, and moringa trees.