How a scientist developed jackfruit juice, chocolates and cookies

Tropical fruit salad with jack fuit  

The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), in Bengaluru has developed a technology to make jackfruit juice, chocolates and cookies. “It took me three years of research to develop this technique,” says CK Narayana, Principal Scientist, and Former Head of the Division of Post Harvest Technology, IIHR, Hessaraghatta.

Jackfruit, unlike the mango, was largely ignored until a few years ago. “Jackfruit is believed to have originated in the Western Ghats and finds mention in traditional systems of medicine,” says Narayana. Its benefits are varied. “100 grams of jackfruit bulbs provide 95 calories of energy, which is better than honey. The fruit is made of soft, easily digestible flesh with simple sugars such as fructose and sucrose that replenish energy instantly.”

Narayana spoke to MetroPlus on what makes jackfruit special. Excerpts:

How much jackfruit is grown in India?

As per the National Horticulture Board Statistics, we produce 1.74 million tonnes annually. Tripura, Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand produce more than one lakh tonnes. Most are natural hybrids and each has a unique taste and texture. Many farmers grow jackfruit in their field bunds or backyards for their consumption. Huge quantities come from forests where they grow wild.

Could you talk about the field gene bank?

IIHR Bengaluru, a subsidiary of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), is a National Active Germplasm Site (NAGS) for jackfruit. We maintain a collection of more than 75 types collected from all over India. This is a continuous process and we keep enriching our gene bank. We help custodian farmers who have been conserving jackfruit trees in their homes or orchards for several generations. We recognise and reward these farmers, and also spread these rare types among other farmers and growers.

Arka Halasuras

Arka Halasuras  

Was jackfruit always a part of our traditional diet?

Long ago, before India became self-sufficient in food grains, people from Kerala, coastal Karnataka, and Maharashtra used to boil jackfruit seeds and eat them during the rainy season or drought as no other food was available. After rice and wheat was made available in plenty, post the Green Revolution, people stopped eating jackfruit seed as it was seen as a symbol of poverty. Over the last few years, jackfruit started getting attention from global scientists, policy makers and farmers.

What is IIHR doing to build awareness of the nutritional benefits of jackfruit?

We have been organising jackfruit diversity shows for the last three years. I have also started researching ways and means to use every part of the fruit (edible flake, seeds and rind). As part of this project, I developed three products using jackfruit seeds, one from the pulp and one animal feed formulation using the rind.

Could you tell us about the products you have developed?

I have developed a process to make a ready-to-drink beverage, without added sugar or acid that can be stored for up to six months at room temperature without any preservative. We also have a process by which jackfruit seeds can be converted into flour that can be stored for up to one year. At IIHR, we have standardised the optimum ratio to be blended into rice or wheat without the taste being compromised. After our laboratory trials, we collaborated with a food processing industry (an IIHR off-site incubatee) in Mangaluru district to introduce this into the market as ready-to-eat chapatis.

We have also developed a jackfruit seed chocolate, where the seed flour is blended with other food additives and non-sugar sweeteners and wrapped in chocolate. The jackfruit comprises almost 50% of the weight of each chocolate, reducing the calorific value by one-third, while raising its mineral content, as the fruit seed is rich in iron, zinc and calcium and other phytochemicals.

Arka Jackolate

Arka Jackolate  

The seed flour-based cookies we developed have 10% lesser calories and high amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc compared to the commercially available cookies. The licence to manufacture the cookies has been given to an entrepreneur in Shivamogga in Karnataka. Production will begin once lockdown is lifted.

What are the nutritional benefits of jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a wonderful gift of nature. The ripe fruit is a delicious dessert, while the unripe one can be cooked as a vegetable, as it has crude as well as dietary fibre. The seed is rich in resistant starch and phytochemicals that have medicinal properties.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 10:29:37 AM |

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