Saturday, 22 January 2022

Unusal Fruit & Christmas Orchid

Artocarpus heterophyllus - Jack fruit


Jack fruit has become very popular during recent years, especially with vegetarians, vegans or those who simply wish to eat less meat - why? It is because the texture of Jack fruit closely resembles that of meat, especially pork. Jack fruit spoils very quickly so it tends to be sold either freshly prepared ready for use, canned or frozen.  However, my question is "do you know what a Jack fruit looks like when it is growing?"

Jack fruit trees are indigenous to Kerala on the Malabar Coast of southern India., Sri Lanka, and the rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. I first saw Jack fruit trees growing whilst travelling around Sri Lanka where it is their national fruit. The trees I saw were giants - extremely tall and very large.

The Jack fruit tends to hang in large clusters high up along the branches, but also, rather curiously, they even sprout out of the trees trunk lower down at eye level. The Jack fruit that I saw were huge, roughly the size of a rugby ball or even larger.

Paphiopedilum insigne - Ladys Slipper Orchid 

My Lady's Slipper orchid only graces us with her presence every three years, but when she does, I enjoy watching her journey from tiny green bud within the base of the leaves to full flower, which takes exactly three months.

She was bought in full bloom at a December flower market in Madeira many years ago, and carried back home on the plane. Her home is the Himalayas, and on high cliffs in Mayanmar, where she grows at altitudes of between 1000 to 2000 meters. It is surprising that she flourishes and thrives so well in the comparatively alien conditions in our home. Although Madeirans grow a wide variety of different orchids, they call Paphiopedilum insigne their Christmas orchid as she never fails to be in full bloom for the Christmas season.

55 comments:

  1. I'd heard of Jack fruit but had no idea what it was, so thanks for educating me on that score. I've seen Lady's Slipper orchids growing in the Dolomites. I remember the occasion well because the owner of the hotel where we were staying said he knew where they grew and would show us on his day off. After several miles and much rock scrambling he came out with the unforgettable line "They were always here when I was a boy!". However we did find them shortly afterwards and it was well worth the effort.

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    1. That yellow orchid, Cypripedium calceolus, used to grow in northern parts of England but sadly it was declared to be extinct in 1917 due to Victorian and Edwardian plant hunters digging them up. However, one single orchid was found in Yorkshire in 1930, and fortunately it is no longer alone, but any that remain are guarded and their location is kept secret. It is our rarest wild flower.

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  2. I have never tasted Jack fruit, of breadfruit as it is often called in Australia. It can sometimes be seen on sale in fruit shops, and growing along the coast. Like many other fruits and vegetables of the Pacific region, it will probably become more popular as tastes change to more international foods. I love your Lady's Slipper orchid, so pretty and dainty, and I can imagine how nice to watch her slowly emerge every three years.

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    1. I had never imagined exactly what Jack fruit looked like so was totally taken by surprise when I first saw it growing.

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  3. The best Jack Fruit I ever ate was in Thailand. It's available here but at a ridiculous price and the quality is often second rate, hardly surprising given the distance it has travelled before being offered at the local market. As for orchids, Yellow Lady Slipper is a highlight of Ontario woodlands.

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    1. Your yellow orchid is the same one that grows here, but sadly ours is now the rarest orchid and wild flower in our country.

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  4. I had never seen breadfruit dangling off a tree... it looks very weird.

    But it is an easy food to cook. I like to compare it to potato, both in taste and in texture. When shaped and cooked like potato wedges, breadfruit is dead easy to make.

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    1. We ate Jack fruit in curry and various savoury dishes in Sri Lanka, but I have only ever cooked it once and it was from a can. The fruit does look very weird, it completely took me by surprise - once seen never forgotten.

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  5. Thanks for two very different photos...I've never seen Jack Fruit growing, but have eaten it twice. First time was served on a bun with barbecue sauce...shredded like pork and much the same texture. Next time I bought some in a package refrigerated. I tried shredding it, but without a food processor was a bit difficult. If it is in bigger chunks, it's not that pleasant to eat. Love your lady slipper. She's a beauty that's worth waiting for.

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    1. In the west using it in place of shredded pork appears to be its most common usage.
      When I first bought the orchid home, it did wonder whether or not she would ever flower, but I am pleased that I kept her and waited.

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  6. Lovely orchid, many years ago
    I found a bee orchid, mid 1950, it was while taking a short cut.It was so special taht i never told anyone else. I hope the lovely thing has survived. Joyce




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    1. Thank you for your comment Joyce - we have bee orchids growing on the common land that surrounds our home. However, whenever I catch sight of one, they always delight.

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    2. Lovely to know they are still around. I saw mine in the UK and now live in the US so things are alittle different

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  7. As kids, we would occasionally find wild lady slippers growing in fields -- always a treat to see! Like all wildflowers, they would grow only in unbroken virgin soil, so they were pretty rare even 50 years ago. These days, I imagine they're all but non-existent.

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    1. Those a memories for you to treasure. The good news is, that David from Canada sees them growing in woodlands around Ontario.

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  8. Dearest Rosemary,
    Oh, fond memories do come back from our lunch meals with the staff in Indonesia.
    It tastes delicious and we are lucky to have plenty of Jack fruit grown here in Florida.
    Your Christmas orchid, or Lady Slipper Orchid is a true gem.
    Enjoy its bloom while it lasts.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - I was sure that Jack fruit would be very familiar to you and Pieter. Sadly my Christmas orchid is fading rapidly day by day now.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, I am a little confused by your nomenclature. Jackfruit and breadfruit, at least here are totally different species, although related. To make it more confusing, the name breadfruit is also applied to a number of non-Artocarpus plants. The breadfruit are much smaller, and jackfruit has a characteristic flavor which is different. A few years ago freeze-dried jackfruit was available everywhere as a snack, but I haven't seen it lately, although I have not looked for it. Lady slipper orchids of several varieties grow wild in Ohio, with an all-yellow variety being perhaps the most common, but you can bet that none are in bloom at Christmas!
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - my mistake re: Bread fruit, the post has now rectified - thank you for letting me know.
      Our only wild Ladys slipper orchid was declared to be extinct in 1917 but fortunately one plant was found in 1930 which has now happily multiplied. their locations are kept secret and closely guarded when in flower.

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  10. I had to look up why Captain Bligh would be sent off in search of breadfruit when you said it deteriorates quickly. I was thinking it was kept on ships for food. The real story is complex. The breadfruit was the catalyst for the system of global trade we have today. Most sites say it is bland in taste which I suppose makes it suitable to mimic other food. Thanks for sending me off down an interesting rabbit hole.

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    1. Sorry Susan - although I said Bread fruit was another name for Jack fruit I was mistaken - it has now been changed. Do forgive me, however, if you enjoyed being sent down a rabbit hole then I am grateful.

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  11. I've only recently heard of breadfruit.

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    1. I do apologise - although Bread fruit is a member of the same family as Jack fruit they are different. Bread fruit looks similar but is a far smaller fruit and tastes different too.

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  12. I saw a whole jackfruit at our greengrocer's recently but wasn't tempted. I've had it from time to time in SE Asia but it isn't my favourite of the tropical fruits. And you always see it sold in those polystyrene packs with cling film looking like they could be plastic, too. You wouldn't want a whole one dropping on your head in the wild, it would do as much damage as a coconut!

    I read "Christmas cactus" in your title and then puzzled at your lovely orchid photo for a bit. So much confusion abounding on your post today! x

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    1. Perhaps it is time I retired! I was worried for a moment that I had actually called my lovely orchid a cactus!

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    2. Oh, no! This is just my own eyes and brain playing mischievously, have no fear !

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  13. That is a beautiful orchid. I have heard of Jack fruit but had no idea what it looked like. I've recently become very fond of bran flakes, fruit and nut mix every breakfast, which is apparently very healthy for you but it does make you 'regular' as well. Can definitely feel a difference with my new high fibre diet.

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    1. Good on you Bob for giving different foods a try. However, a bowl of good old fashioned porridge, steaming hot, is still hard to beat especially during the winter months.

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  14. I have seen them growing in Sri Lanka, and Kerala, India - a very interesting area to visit. Eye-catching but not something I've tasted let alone cooked!

    Gorgeous orchid - plants I've never had luck growing! Think they require patience and the right light - things I often have little of!

    Off to make my porridge bowl topped with blueberries and a few chopped almonds - hard to beat on such a cold morning - just 16F right now but bright sunshine melting the ice a bit. Staying close to home, TV news last night reported local hospitals very busy with fractures from falls!!!
    Hugs to you and J xx

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    1. Because I was unfamiliar with exactly how Jack Fruit look whilst growing I was completely taken aback by how they grew and what they looked liked.
      Keep warm, and hope that you are feeling much better.

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  15. Dear Rosemary, Try as I might I have not been able to rebloom Lady Slipper Orchids. Maybe it's because I never waited 3 years for new blooms. I have had luck with other orchids. Your Lady Slipper Orchid is so stunning. The colors are fabulous.
    Jack Fruit I have not experienced. Thank you for sharing. Who knows, maybe next trip.

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    1. Dear Gina - I must say that I do not do anything special to keep the Ladys Slipper Orchid in tiptop condition. She sits in a corner of the conservatory beneath a shady canopy of leaves from other plants. Occasionally I give her a little water, but that is about the extent of it.

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  16. Jack Fruit is in some markets here, but I have no idea how to deal with it because it is sold whole and horned. I have never eaten it or seen it served.
    Also--what a lovely orchid and how amazing that it survived!

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    1. I have only ever used Jack Fruit once, it was canned. I used it in curry with coconut milk like they do in Sri Lanka where we ate it several times. Thank you for your visit and comment.

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  17. What a delight that orchid must be. Since previously we lived yearly in two different homes, I have not had many plants. I hope to remedy that. I have never eaten Jack fruit. Interesting.

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    1. I think that Jack Fruit is gradually becoming more common especially now that people are more aware of eating less meat.

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  18. I've heard of Jack fruit, but have never eaten it. I'm not fond of most tropical fruits which is really shame since I spent so many years living on the equator.
    Your orchid is so lovely. We have a variety of wild Lady's Slipper orchid here (cypripedium parviflorum) that is different from yours, but very pretty, and still to be seen in the wild if one keeps one's eyes open.

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    1. Jack fruit tends to be eaten along with coconut milk in a curry as a replacement for meat. Your wild Cypripedium parviflorum orchid is almost identical to our, extremely rare, Cypripedium calceolus.

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  19. Dear Rosemary, I never before heard of the Jack-Fruit - not in its stage on a tree or later. But I am sure it will swap over to us in a short while :-)

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    1. When it arrives on your doorstep Britta you will now know more about it. It is best eaten in a nice creamy coconut milk curry as a replacement for meat.

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  20. Interesting fruit and I found interesting how it grows.
    The orchid is gorgeous and seeing it only flowers every 3 years there would be excitement to see it coming into bloom.

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    1. After a couple of years I always begin to wonder "will this be the year that she blooms."

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  21. Love the orchid although I would find it very hard to wait three years between flowers. Your jackfruit info was my new fact of the day. Never heard of it before :) Have a good week. B x

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    1. Jack fruit can now be found in many supermarkets here now (canned) especially now more people are eating less meat.

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  22. I'm afraid I've never tasted jackfruit, although I keep meaning to give it a try. I think i need to find an alluring recipe. I think I saw these growing in Rodrigues, off Mauritius, a few years ago

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    1. It is lovely to hear from you again Jenny - hope all is well with you and yours. It is good alternative to have in a curry instead of meat especially a creamy one made with coconutmilk.

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  23. Dear Rosemary - Jackfruit is new to me. I’m not a vegan but like vegetables, so meat-like vegetable is a welcome. So many warts on the skin! I’ll check if they have jackfruit at the nearby supermarket. Your Lady Slipper Orchid is so graceful and luminous. The flower every three years is so precious. The plant which never fails to bloom around Christmas in my living room is Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera), but it's going to be withered now. Take care.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - the skin is fascinating to look at - it has only become more familiar here over the last 3 - 4 years and I have only ever seen it here in cans.
      I wonder what the situation in the world will be like next time my orchid flowers?

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  24. Interesting post! I have never tasted jackfruit!
    Always nice visiting your blog Rosemary...
    Titti

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  25. I never tasted the Jack fruit , never saw it here either . Will keep my eyes wide open now when I go to the supermarket , maybe it is there somewhere maybe frozen ? Wishing you a belated Happy New Year !

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    1. Hope you are well Jane and belated New Year greetings to you too. I imagine, rather like here, that Jack fruit would be found in cans.

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