When you visit most rural homes, 80 per cent of them have two to three jackfruit trees in their backyard.
Some of the jackfruit is consumed by the people in the homestead, the other is given to the animals or left to rot away. But did you know you can add value to the perishable fruit and earn a living?
Julius Nyanzi, also known as Omukenkufu, is one of the farmers that have devoted effort into adding value to the fruit. From jackfruit he makes quite a number of things among which is what he refers to as “nyama ya fene” (jackfruit pulled meat)
He says when it was discovered by authorities in 2018 that butchers were adding formalin to meat, he started researching on what can be substituted with meat. In this case jackfruit was the best option he could find.
“During my one-year research, I discovered that jackfruit is one of the tropical fruits that can act as the best meat substitutes. When you get a chance to visit China this is one of the menus served in most of their restaurant.”
To Nyanzi meat and jackfruit have a lot in common. Meat is has blood and jackfruit has sticky white latex (sap). The two are rich in fibres and fruit’s texture is similar to that of meat which is chewy and tender.
Jackfruit pulled meat
Nyanzi says when preparing jackfruit meat you will need to use the immature fruit because when you let it ripen you might fail to get the right taste.
“When the fruit is immature, its fibres are still strong and inert. However, the only challenge with the immature is the fact that it’s with a lot of sticky white latex, but you can use sesame oil.”
After cutting your fruit, place the pulp in sesame oil for one hour. Sesame oil is extracted from sesame seeds and contains antioxidants.
When you remove the fruit, you can use any marinade or season it with spices of your choice. The trick is to coat the jackfruit with the spices for 20 minutes before frying it. To your saucepan, add sesame and all the ingredients you want. After five minutes of boiling you can serve.
The fact that you are dealing with something that can go bad any time, how to preserve it for your consumers is also important.
“In this case vacuum packing is the most preferred method of preservation. Before you pack you evacuate air (oxygen) from the packs.”
Nyanzi says when this is done the ‘jackfruit meat’ gets a shelf-life of one month and 250 grammes is sold at Shs5,000.
Other than the ‘jackfruit meat’ he also makes other jackfruit based products.
“Raw jackfruit is the basic raw material for fried jack chips.” Cut the raw jackfruits into large pieces. Then remove the bulbs and seeds using hand. Cut the raw bulbs into suitable lengthwise pieces.
Fry these pieces in coconut oil or refined vegetable oil. Also, you may add salt to enhance its taste and preservation. These can also be made by solar drying only and package for your clients.
Many people choose to discard jackfruit seeds but they are also edible. From the dried pulps and the seeds you can make flour.
The manufacturing of jackfruit seed flour is easy and the technology is readily available for entrepreneurs.
Due to its high carbohydrate content and other nutrients, they can be added to baked products for value addition without affecting the functional and sensory properties of the final product. Solar dry the seeds for three days, take off the brown covering and grind.
Unlike other products, jam will require you to use a fully ripe jackfruit. You will first boil the fruit pulp with ingredients such as cinnamon and lemon until it softens. This allows it to absorb the entire flavour.
When the water has evaporated you can then let it cool. Smash and sieve. Because of the sugars the fruit contains it is advised not to add sugar. Basically, jam is an intermediate moisture food and high sugar content increases its caloric value.
Vacuum packing is another way to increase the shelf life of food products. It is a method of packaging that removes air from the package prior to sealing. This method involves (manually or automatically) placing items in a plastic film package, removing air from inside, and sealing the package. Shrink film is sometimes used to have a tight fit to the contents.