I am up for trying almost any type of fruit or vegetable that Mexico has to offer. Surprisingly, I’ve actually come across some new ones that I am not fond of (didn’t know that was possible?!), and of course…ones that I am fond of!

One we recently came across is CARAMBOLA, or star fruit.  You can see in the photos how it got its name!  Overall, I wasn’t impressed with this one. Perhaps I didn’t get one that was ripe enough?  I found it to be a slightly more fruity version of a yellow pepper. It’s a similar texture…but it wasn’t sweet enough for me to want to eat more than a slice. Supposedly it is recommended online as a sub for pineapple in an upside down pineapple cake…so surely it must come sweeter?  Or people are really just obsessed with having that star shape show on their cake, perhaps?

As for this red fruit…it is called Lychee (thanks to my online friend, Rebeca, who informed me!). It has a tough, bumpy skin that you have to carefully peel away to reveal a peeled-grape-type-of-fruit underneath. Problem is, it has a huge seed inside, so it is quite a bit of work for only a small bit of white fruit. Overall? Yummy, but not worth the effort…

Now this ugly fruit is a BEAST of a fruit! It is called Jackfruit in English, and in Mexico it is called Jaca!  Wikipedia says Jackfruit is native to Asia, but they certainly have it growing down here on the coast. The first time I saw it, my head turned FAST!! Apparently these babies can grow up to 80 lbs! My interest was piqued again, when I discovered a recipe online for vegan “pulled pork” using none other than…JACKFRUIT!  Say what?!!

So, my friends in Guadalajara helped me get my hands on this one (which I split with them)…and I took it home to work some magic.

My magic wasn’t nearly this clean, so please forgive me for borrowing this photo from Wikipedia, so you can see the inside of a jackfruit:

It turns out that Jackfruit is AWFUL to cut. It is seriously one of the weirdest things I have ever seen!  The outside is very bumpy and tougher than watermelon. The inside is just plain bizarre. It has weird fruit pods that circle the core. These little pods are made of stringy segments which are not desirous to eat plain, but cook up to be soft and a similar texture to pulled pork. Inside of each of these pods is a gigantic seed which apparently can also be cooked and eaten (but I didn’t). Immediately around the seed is a sweet yellow fruit which is almost banana-like in flavor, but tough. Kinda yummy.

And did I mention that the whole inside of the fruit is held together with an oily, white glue-like substance?  It is like cutting open a fruit that is covered in Elmer’s glue…NO JOKE. Luckily, my friend warned me that to clean my knife afterwards I would need to use a large amount of oil to wipe it clean. She was right…without knowing that trick I would have been (more of) a DISASTER!

So…how was the pulled pork, you ask?  Well, I tried to sub the cooked jack fruit for the Cafe Rio pulled pork recipe my family cooks up at home, but it was a terrible failure (probably because the fruit doesn’t have any salt content, like pork). The texture was right, but the flavor was off. I still have some in my freezer, and I will probably just cook it up with some BBQ sauce, to make some pulled pork sandwiches.  I think it will be great!

All-in-all…jackfruit/pulled pork was definitely one of the weirdest/coolest vegan adventures I have been on!

13 Responses to “Wacky Mexican Fruit”

  1. That’s funny. I’ve tried starfruit in the US and thought it wasn’t very exciting, but I tried one fresh off a tree in Mexico and thought it was amazing. Maybe you should try again!
    I think the red things are lychee/litchi.
    Jackfruit is jaca in Spanish. I first tried it in Thailand ten years ago and was SO excited to find some in Mexico last winter. I’d seen it growing but never for sale, and we were driving one day and saw it at a roadside fruit stand. So I threw caution to the wind and bought some… so yummy. It’s like eating the petals of a flower!
    Have you seen the cookinginmexico.com blog? She wrote some great posts about jackfruit. I met her last winter at the farmer’s market where she sells coconut oil…. I was SO happy to find that!
    Sorry… long comment. I miss tropical fruit. :> Eat some mangoes for me.

    • Awesome, Rebeca! Thanks for letting me know what the fruit names were, and for sending me over to cookininmexico.com. I’m sure I will be watching it for recipes that appeal! I will try starfruit again, now that you recommend it as well! I can’t even imagine how you broke into the Jaca fruit, unless you were well-equipped! Haha!! I will certainly eat some mangoes…but I’ve discovered I’m allergic to the tree sap, and have to buy it frozen from costco in Guadalajara, or already cut by a local who leaves NO trace of the peel! Bummer 🙁

  2. Eric and Denis says:

    Eric Dad had a Tree full of star fruit in Florida. It was delicious!

  3. I am writing this from the country of origin of Jaca – Jackfruit – India.

    I’m editor of a vernacular farm magazine, Adike Patrike’ run by farmers. We are in 25th year of publication. Jackfruit being one of our priority subjects, we have brought out eight Jackfruit Special issues so far.

    My interest in Jackfruits has raised after reading your blog. Could you help us with more info on Mexican Jaca, Jackfruit farmers, Marketing & VAlue Addition – or people who could interact & exchange information with us in Englisg over e-mail?

    Thank you so much for throwing light on mExican Jaca!

    Best Regards

    Shree Padre

    • I wish I could help. But I don’t know any Jackfruit growers, or have any connections to them whatsoever! I would search for connections in the coastal area, by Manzanillo up through Puerto Vallarta. Good luck!

      • cesar montano corona says:

        Hi I just read all the coments about JACK FRUIT If anybody is interesting about Im from mexico and we have alot of that fruit, this is my pone.3232549419

  4. Anonymous says:

    I picked a star fruit off my neighbors tree in Florida …… And it was great! I recently bought one in a store in Wyoming and it was bitter and gross, there must be two species

    • There must be! I’ve tried them again (in Southeast Asia) and found them to be tasteless and more like eating a yellow pepper (which I enjoy–but as a veggie, not as a fruit)!! I have yet to find one I like…

  5. Just seen this at my local Krogers. They recently remodeled and been getting a lot of different imported cheese, fruits and vegetables. It looked weird and a bit heavy. Said Jackfruit imported from Mexico. Never seen anything like it. When I asked a worker about it, he said someone told him that it tastes like bubble gum. I was just wondering what it tastes like, really?

    • Oh, if only I could pinpoint what it tastes like for a precise description! There are two major parts of the jackfruit…the big stringy part that vegans use to make fake pulled pork from, and then the rubbery yellow fruity parts that are HEAVENLY. The yellow part seems like a cross of many fruits…maybe a banana, peach and mango combined? Bubble gum isn’t a terribly inaccurate description, but keep in mind it would be a FLAVORED, DELICIOUS bubble gum!! It’s a wild one—you should buy it just to experiment!!


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