As people get more and more careful about the things they eat, specifically about how much meat they eat, there’s a growing interest in meat alternatives.
Some of these replacements take the form of “faux” meat products that are meant to look, feel, and taste just like their meat counterparts. Other options include foods like tofu and seitan. For many though, their taste and unique texture can be off-putting.
Meat replacements also tend to be very processed. So, if you’re looking for a more natural alternative that’s also packed with nutrients, jackfruit is a great meat substitute.
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is very popular among South and Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
It’s incredibly versatile and can be used to make a variety of savory dishes. Whether you serve it in a curry, some jackfruit tacos or use it as a pulled pork replacement, drizzled with barbeque sauce, there’s a jackfruit recipe for you.
Since it’s such a large food, (and oftentimes expensive outside of its native countries) it’s uncommon that you’ll use the whole fruit in one go.
The question, then, is can you freeze jackfruit? The good news is yes you can – the better news is that doing this means you can keep it for up to 2 months!
Read on to learn how to prepare jackfruit before freezing. I’ll also explain the different ways to prep raw and cooked jackfruit.
How to Cut Jackfruit Before Freezing
Jackfruit is actually the largest fruit that grows on trees in the world. As you might expect, it’s not exactly practical to stuff something into your freezer that can be up to 35 inches long and weigh 120 pounds!
To ensure that it fits, you’ll need to cut it before freezing. Doing this will also help when you defrost it.
What You’ll Need
Before you begin, set aside a large bowl to store waste, and another bowl for the flesh.
You’ll also need a sturdy knife. Now, cutting jackfruit can possibly damage your knife. This is because of the latex sap that oozes from the fruit when you cut it. I’d recommend using an older knife or one that you’re not overly fond of! Since the skin of the fruit isn’t too hard, you don’t need a super sharp or strong knife.
Lastly, because of the natural latex sap in jackfruit you need to take care if you’re allergic to latex. If you are, wear gloves to avoid contact with it. Even if you have no allergies, I’d suggest that you cover your work area with newspaper or paper towels. This will help prevent the sap from sticking to the surface and making the cleanup very difficult.
Cutting the Jackfruit
Here is how you should cut jackfruit before freezing it.
- Apply a generous amount of oil on your hands and on your knife before cutting the jackfruit. This prevents the sticky sap from sticking to your hands and knife.
- Cut the jackfruit in half. Start at the top, near the stem, and work down one side towards the bottom. Flip the fruit and continue cutting from the bottom, back to the top.
- Continue adding oil to the knife as necessary.
- Cut each half in half again to form quarters.
- Inside you will see a white core that you don’t eat. There are also large yellow kernels called arils, held in place by white fibrous tissue called rags. Additionally, you will find a lot of seeds. Put the seeds in a separate bowl as there is additional prep needed for the seeds (more on that later).
- Cut out any soft or rotten parts that you see.
- Remove all of the seeds, arils, and rags – scraping and cutting away these parts from the peel and core.
After cutting the jackfruit, it’s ready to be cooked or frozen for later use.
Can You Freeze Raw Jackfruit?
Yes! Freezing raw jackfruit is a great way to store it to be used at a later date. But before you go and put it all in the freezer, there are some things that you should do beforehand.
The seeds, rags, and arils should all be dealt with individually. If you will be using the rags you should avoid freezing and use them within a couple of days, storing them in the fridge until you use them.
As is the case when freezing other fruits, due to the high water content of jackfruit, freezing it can change its texture and consistency. The good news is that since it isn’t quite as juicy as other fruits, it’s not quite as adversely impacted.
There are two types of jackfruit: soft and crisp. As you’d expect, crisp jackfruit is much like it sounds. Its arils are more crisp and firm. Soft jackfruit, unsurprisingly, is softer and juicier!
However, it doesn’t matter whether you freeze crisp or soft jackfruit. After it’s been frozen and thawed, it will resemble a soft jackfruit in its texture.
Should You Freeze Raw Jackfruit Whole?
Whilst you could chuck the whole thing in the freezer, it will take up a whole lot of real estate in there. However, there is a positive side to freezing it whole if you have space.
The thick and tough rind of the fruit protects the integrity of the fruit better than any airtight container.
But, of course, this also means that you will have to cut the jackfruit later on.
So if you want to get the annoying preparation out of the way and save space in your freezer, you should follow the instructions above for cutting jackfruit. Here’s how to properly freeze raw jackfruit once you’ve cut it.
How to Freeze Raw Jackfruit
If you put everything together into a single container without separating it first, all of your hard work will almost be for nothing as it will freeze into one massive blob that’s almost as big as the jackfruit itself.
Here’s how to make sure your jackfruit doesn’t clump together in the freezer:
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the arils on the baking sheet – be careful that none of them touch because they will freeze together – and put them in the freezer.
- Keep them in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until they’re all frozen.
- Transfer the frozen arils into a large freezer-safe bag. Store them horizontally with as much space as possible in the bag so they’re not squished together. If they’re stored vertically or too tightly in a bag with one another, they will freeze together into a single clump even if they’re already frozen.
- Avoid stacking anything heavy on top of your frozen jackfruit.
Can You Freeze Cooked Jackfruit?
Absolutely. Cooked jackfruit is very well suited to freezing. This is true whether it’s ‘dry’ or already prepared into a meal. You should have no hesitation about freezing pulled jackfruit or that leftover jackfruit stew!
This method is less of a hassle than when you freeze raw jackfruit. You can also freeze packaged jackfruit if you like!
How to Freeze Cooked Jackfruit
To get the best results, wait for the cooked jackfruit to cool and then transfer it, with or without any sauce you cooked it in, into a freezer-safe bag.
Lay it horizontally on your counter and spread the contents as much as possible. Aim for it to be no more than a half-inch thick.
When you close the bag, try to remove as much air as possible. Then place it horizontally in your freezer until the contents are frozen.
After they’re frozen you can store them vertically to save space in your freezer.
Can You Freeze Jackfruit Seeds?
Yes, like the arils or pods, you can also freeze jackfruit seeds. By freezing them you can save them and use them even later in the year if you would like.
Whilst you can freeze them to make them last even longer, they’re quite durable. They can last up to 5 months when kept in the fridge if they’re properly sealed.
Whether you use the fridge or freezer, you should make sure to hold onto the seeds and use them in your cooking. Despite some myths that jackfruit seeds are poisonous, they in fact have many nutritional benefits.
How to Freeze Jackfruit Seeds
Since jackfruit seeds are encased in a soft, white, inedible shell you will first need to remove them from it before you can freeze them. To peel your jackfruit seeds you can do it a couple of ways.
- You can cut the seeds (quartered, halves, or just the end) and then peel off the outer layer.
- You can boil the seeds for 15-20 minutes and then scrape off the peeling off.
- Alternatively, take a small knife or pairing knife and cut a cross (X) patter into the peel and then scrape it off.
- Lastly, you can crush them. Hit or press hard an individual seed and the outer jacket will break. Then separate the skins and seeds, and discard the skins. However, this method will also crack the seed itself. It also works better if the seeds have been allowed to air dry, making the jacket more brittle and easy to break.
After the jackfruit seeds have been removed from the casing they can be frozen very easily. You only need to put them inside of a freezer-friendly container or bag.
I recommend freezing them in individual portions. This makes it much easier to use only the desired amount at a time and prevents unused bits from going to waste.
Check out our complete guide to know more about preparing jackfruit seeds!
How Long Does Jackfruit Keep in the Freezer?
There are a few different ways that you can keep jackfruit, each one lasting longer or shorter than the other.
You can keep a whole jackfruit at room temperature for up to a month if it’s not left in direct sunlight as it will continue to ripen and then go bad.
Cut jackfruit, on the other hand, lasts in the fridge for only up to 1 week, and only a couple of hours at room temperature.
Unsurprisingly, jackfruit keeps for the longest amount of time in the freezer.
If it’s kept at no more than 0 degrees Fahrenheit it can last up to two months in the freezer at its best quality.
After that, whilst it’ll still be edible to begin with the quality will get worse and worse as time goes on due to its high sugar content.
How to Defrost Jackfruit
When you chose to defrost your jackfruit there are a few different methods that you can choose from. You can thaw it by microwave, refrigerator, or running it under cool water.
To defrost jackfruit by microwave, remove the desired amount of jackfruit from the freezer-safe container and place it on a plate. Then microwave in only 5-10-15 second intervals to avoid overheating it and changing the texture even more. This is the fastest method, but it’s not one that I would recommend if quality is your goal.
To defrost jackfruit in the refrigerator, simply place the desired amount of jackfruit on a plate or container in the fridge and allow it to defrost. This depends on how much you take out but it can take anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
Lastly, you can defrost jackfruit by running it under cool water. This works best if each portion is already separated in freezer-safe bags.
Also, you may not even need to defrost it at all depending on what you are going to use it for. If you will be putting it into a soup or stew then it would be the easiest thing just to directly add the thawed jackfruit while you are cooking!