Jackfruit is a firm and sweet off-sprout of the fittingly named jack tree. Originating in parts of south-east Asia, jackfruit grows best in humid and warm climates wherein it can absorb as much moisture as possible1.
With jackfruit being a rather uncommon delicacy in most parts of the western world, it is often bought in large quantities in the event that it becomes available in local markets.
However, due to the fact that it is an organic foodstuff, it is likely that the fruits may expire before they have been consumed in their entirety, and as such necessitates the appropriate methods of storage.
Jackfruit, like all other fruit, can have their relative shelf-life extended by being placed in the freezer. However, the detrimental effects of freezing temperatures apply all the more to this particular fruit owing to its high water content, and as such it is best to consume jackfruit soon after it has been purchased instead.
Why Should You Freeze Jackfruit?
Jackfruit has a relatively low shelf-life when left unpreserved both because of its organic nature and because of enzymes present within the fruit itself that cause it to break down at a cellular level.
At sufficiently low temperatures, these enzymes are inhibited as the molecules that they consist of begin to slow down, extending the amount of time before the jackfruit decays from its own chemical processes.
Not only will the internal enzymatic action of the jackfruit be slowed by freezing, but the majority of bacteria and fungi cannot survive for long periods in extremely cold temperatures. Even in the event that they manage to survive in a dormant state, placing your jackfruit in the freezer will prevent them from propagating and making the fruit inedible.
How Long Does Jackfruit Last at Room Temperature?
At room temperature, most organic produce will begin to break down quickly depending on the relative moisture present both in the storage environment and in the fruit or vegetable itself.
In the case of jackfruits, however, this period of time is only as short a time as two to three days, owing to its high sugar content. It is best to consume jackfruit immediately once it has been purchased or harvested, as it may begin to ferment or develop mold shortly after.
In order to extend the shelf-life of jackfruit at room temperature for as long as possible, it is important to keep it as dry as possible. Store it away from any areas that may bring moisture, such as a sink or an open window.
Apart from moisture, direct sunlight will also accelerate the enzymatic process of cellular breakdown in the jackfruit, and as such the fruit should be kept away from uncovered windows or sunroofs.
Can Jackfruit be Refrigerated?
Yes, jackfruit may be refrigerated in order to more than double the length of time it will remain shelf-stable as opposed to simply leaving it out on the counter.
In order to refrigerate jackfruit properly, wrap it tightly in plastic cling film. Keep as little air between the plastic film and the fruit’s surface, as the presence of oxygen can hasten the enzymatic action of the jackfruit and accelerate its spoilage.
After completely swaddling the jackfruit, place it in a sufficiently large enough paper bag before storing the jackfruit in the driest part of your freezer for up to seven days.
Ensure that no condensation or moisture can somehow make its way into the plastic wrapping around the jackfruit. If the jackfruit has been cooked prior to refrigerating, it is best to allow it to cool off for some time before storing it, as steam may become caught in the plastic and contribute to the fruit’s spoilage.
What Do You Need to Freeze Jackfruit?
As it is difficult to freeze the entirety of an intact jackfruit because of its size, shape, and the fact that thawing it completely will be difficult, several items will be needed in order to cut it into the proper size before storing it properly.
You will need a cutting board or other flat surface, a very sharp knife large enough to make cutting the jackfruit easy, freezer-safe plastic cling wrap and a big enough container to hold all the pieces of jackfruit.
Alternatively, you may also store the jackfruit in multiple containers if you do not plan to consume the entire batch at once, as thawing and subsequently refreezing jackfruit will severely impact its textural quality.
How to Freeze Jackfruit
It is important to note that freezing jackfruit is rather labor intensive, but much of this difficulty can be remedied by simply purchasing jackfruit that has already been cut and whose flesh has already been harvested.
Using your cutting board and knife, carefully bisect the jackfruit and remove the edible flesh within. Be careful not to squeeze these fleshy pods too hard, as they may release juices that will form ice crystals once placed in the freezer.
After removing the flesh of the jackfruit from its rind, wrap each individual pod in plastic cling wrap, alternating the direction that you are wrapping the fruit in with each sheet. This will ensure that no areas are left uncovered.
Once the individual jackfruit pods have been properly wrapped in plastic, wrap them once more, this time in aluminum foil. The metallic wrapping will both speed up the process of freezing as well as protect the delicate plant cells of the jackfruit from the damaging effects of freezer burn.
Now wrapped in two layers of different material, carefully place the jackfruit pieces in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Do not force too many individual jackfruit pods together, as they will expand slightly and may secrete juice that will freeze the fruit to the plastic wrap, making it difficult to thaw.
Keep in mind that freezing jackfruit will affect its texture negatively, as well as cause a mild discoloration. This is due to the aforementioned damage to jackfruit’s cells by the expansion of water when frozen.
Jackfruit will keep edible for up to two months in the freezer, though a loss in quality will occur sooner than this point. This length of time is also approximate, and does not apply if the jackfruit is thawed and then subsequently refrozen.
How to Thaw Jackfruit
In order to defrost jackfruit, remove the serving amount of fruit flesh you need from its container in the freezer. There is no need to take the entire container of jackfruit out of the freezer unless you are planning to consume the entire batch.
Remove the first layer of aluminum foil and place the fruit in the fridge for two to three hours. So long as the pieces of fruit have not been fused together from freezing, they will defrost rather quickly.
It is also possible to soak the frozen jackfruit in room-temperature water, so long as it is kept insulated from the water with a container or the plastic cling film.
1. Unknown Author. “Artocarpus heterophyllus”. Tropical Biology Association. October 2006. Archived from the original on 15 August 2012.
2. Morton, Julia. (N.D.) “Jackfruit”. Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.