Q. While I have several flourishing jackfruit fruit, I also have these young ones that start out good but then get this moldy appearance. And how can you tell when jackfruit is ready to be picked?
S.E. & N.W., via email
Your photo shows the tiny male flowers that are on a fruit-like structure that has rotted. After the pollen has been shed, this structure rots away. So what you are seeing is perfectly normal.
Sometimes when a young tree blooms for the first time, almost all of the flowers are male. The number of female flowers increase as the tree matures.
You can look at the stem (pedicle) attaching the flower structure to the tree to tell the difference between male and female flowers. The pedicles of the male flower clusters are thinner than on females. Both male and female flowers are on the same tree since jackfruit is a monoecious (“one house”) plant. Needless to say, it’s the female flowers that develop into a fruit.
Here’s a fact sheet on caring for your jackfruit tree: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg370
Jackfruit may be eaten as a vegetable when picked at an immature stage, or eaten fresh when picked at a mature stage and allowed to ripen. Immature fruit is usually 1 to 3 months old, green and may be harvested for cooking.
To eat jackfruit as a fresh fruit, harvest when it starts to have a strong odor. It will continue to ripen off the tree. It’s ready to eat when it’s slightly soft when pressed. Sometimes the bumps on the skin will become more rounded when it’s ready.
When the fruit is ripe, you should recut the stem end first to see if it is producing a lot of latex sap. If it is, rub your hands with vegetable oil when taking the fruit apart so that the latex won’t stick to your fingers.
Eat the flesh that surrounds the seeds. Excess flesh can be frozen for a 1 year or longer. Roast the seeds since they are edible and taste similar to chestnuts.
This fruit has a slightly strong flavor that tastes like a very ripe banana and pineapple.
Jackfruit can be grown from seeds and can produce fruit four to five years after planting. It is also well suited for small yards since it can be kept manageable by pruning.