Friday, July 6, 2012

I've Had It!

This year started slow for the mangoes, but they have such a strong finish that everyone I know is overdosed from eating too many mangoes. Look at the pile of Ok Rong on the top of this photo. You can only eat so many of them in a day! But I want to talk about another thing today: the Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit.)

In a previous blog, I was asked about the meaning of the jackfruit's scientific name so here it is: "artos" means "bread," and "carpus" means "fruit." Heterophyllus means more than one form, from Greek word "heteros" meaning different. Breadfruit is a cousin of jackfruit and they both belong to the Mulberry Family (Moraceae.) This family comprises Jackfruit, Breadfruit, Osage Orange, Mulberry,
Milk Tree, Soursop, Sugar Apple & Cherimoya. The common characteristic in this family is that its members have compound or multiple fruit (syncarp.)

So the jackfruit is not just one fruit, it is many (hundreds of fruits) contained in a green to yellow-brown exterior rind. The internal structure of this fruit is remarkable. The sticky latex is abundant and stick to your knife, hands and everything else that touches it. The real edibles fruits are each enveloped in a pouch formed by very sticky string-like strands. These pouches are anchored at one end to the rind container, and at the other end, to the jackfruit's apex core. You can reach in to nudge the fruits out of their sticky cocoon and you will discover that the fruits are miraculously dry without any of the nasty stickiness on any part of them. You can eat them right off your hand. Each fruit has a large seed contained within a slippery pouch that can easily be separated from the fruits.

It is amazing to see that the individual fruits are totally immune from the surrounding sticky latex. This job is very labor intensive and I am not about to do this again anytime soon. And please do not ask me what I did with the Ok Rong. I've had it with them!

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