Jackfruit

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a large whole jackfruit ready to be prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat jackfruit?

Jackfruit may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Can babies eat jackfruit seeds?

Yes, if the seeds are cooked until soft, membranes removed, and mashed.1 After boiling or roasting the seeds until soft, peel off the white and brown membranes before preparing for baby. Note that, in addition to the choking risk, uncooked jackfruit seeds contain a compound that is not safe for consumption.2 Cooking the seeds eliminates the compound and makes the seeds safe to eat.

Jackfruit seeds are also pulverized into flour and are dense with fiber, protein, and polyunsaturated fats to support brain function, as well as plenty of antioxidant benefits.3

Where does jackfruit come from?

One of the world’s largest fruits, jackfruit originated in South Asia, where it is known as mít, nangka, panasa, and many other names. Today, jackfruit trees grow across the global tropics, though the majority that is harvested, canned, and shipped worldwide comes from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other countries in South Asia. People throughout the region learned to cultivate jackfruit in ancient times, harvesting the massive bumpy green fruits from the trunks of tropical evergreen trees. After European colonizers arrived in the 15th century, the plant was introduced to other tropical regions, where it became known as “jackfruit”—an anglicized name from chakka, the Malayalam name for the fruit.

Aarav, 12 months, eats ripe jackfruit.
Hawii, 14 months, eats ripe jackfruit.
Sebastián, 17 months, eats pieces of ripe jackfruit.

Is jackfruit healthy for babies?

Yes. Jackfruit offers an array of B vitamins such as B6 and folate, which support neurological development and growth in babies and children. Jackfruit also offers a decent amount of fiber, which supports digestion and the gut microbiome. Although it is not a fat-dense food, jackfruit does contain essential healthy fats important for brain development. Lastly, jackfruit contains carotenoids like beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein that act as antioxidants, support healthy vision, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.4

The seeds of jackfruit are edible and offer ample protein and starchy carbohydrates to support baby’s growth, as well as some calcium, iron, and vitamin B1.

Can babies eat canned jackfruit?

Yes, in small amounts. Jackfruit is sometimes preserved in brine (which is often high in sodium) or in syrup (which is high in added sugar). Rinsing the fruit before preparing for baby will reduce some sodium or sugar content.

Is jackfruit a healthy meat substitute?

Yes. Jackfruit offers less protein than beef, chicken, pork, and other meats, but it is a perfectly healthy substitute in foods for babies. Cuisines across South Asia have long featured jackfruit as a means to add flavor, heartiness, and nutrition in lots of different types of dishes. For example, in the Bengla language, young jackfruit is sometimes called gach patha which loosely translates to “tree meat”—an apt description given how the unripened fruit absorbs flavor and mimics the texture of animal flesh in cooking. Just pay attention to the food label when purchasing jackfruit in cans or containers. Choose brands with low sodium (less than 100 milligrams of sodium per serving) and take care to safely introduce any common allergens listed on the label.

Is jackfruit a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Jackfruit flesh can be challenging for babies to chew. To minimize the risk, remove the seeds, and offer cooked jackfruit or fresh fruit that has been chopped or pulled into shreds. If you would like to serve the seeds, be sure to cook until soft, remove the membrane, and mash. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is jackfruit a common allergen?

No. Allergies to jackfruit are rare. However, jackfruit has infrequently been reported to trigger severe reactions in some individuals with latex and birch pollen allergies.5 6 Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome who are allergic to birch pollen may also be sensitive to jackfruit.7 8 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Cooking jackfruit can help minimize the reaction.9 10

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

Can jackfruit help baby poop?

Yes. Jackfruit pulp is about 80% water and also contains a fair amount of fiber, which together can help promote soft stools.11 Jackfruit seeds are an amazing source of fiber, particularly insoluble fiber which can help bulk up bowel movements and promote bowel regularity.12 Note that pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child. Be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.

How do you prepare jackfruit for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Finely chop the bulb (seed removed) and fold the fruit into a soft, scoopable food or cook the deseeded fruit until completely soft and mushy. If you have a whole jackfruit on your hands, boil or roast the seeds until soft, remove the membranes, then mash. You can also shred and cook the bulbs of young green jackfruit to stir into coconut curry, moong dal, or your favorite stew to share with baby. Jackfruit flour can be used to cook idli, roti, and pancakes, but try to avoid processed jackfruit products with lots of sodium and sugar (pre-packaged meat alternatives, chips, ice cream, juices, and pickles) until after the first birthday.

9 to 12 months old: If baby’s pincer grasp (where the thumb and forefinger meet) has developed, try moving down in size and offer bite-sized pieces of a bulb of ripe jackfruit. Alternatively, you can continue to finely chop or shred jackfruit to stir into a soft, scoopable food for baby. You can also continue to serve cooked and mashed jackfruit seeds (membranes removed).

12 to 24 months old: Continue to serve bite-sized pieces or shreds of ripe jackfruit, either on their own or as part of savory and sweet shared meals. Once your toddler is taking accurate sized bites and is no longer stuffing food, you can move back up in size to a full fruit bulb, with the seed removed. If the fruit gets bitten down to a size that makes you uncomfortable, simply remove it and replace with a fresh bulb. At this age, you can offer cooked, soft jackfruit seeds, cut in half (membrane removed). This is also a great age to encourage self-feeding with utensils. If toddler needs help, simply pre-load an age-appropriate fork or trainer chopsticks with bite-sized pieces of jackfruit, and lay it next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass the utensil in the air for toddler to grab from you.

a hand holding a jackfruit flesh pod with the seed removed
A whole jackfruit bulb with seed removed for babies 6 months+ or toddlers 12 months+
After cutting a circle around the stem, cut a diagonal incision and start pulling back the fruit skin to expose the fruit fibers and pods.
Pulling the fruit pods from the fibrous flesh.

Avoid the common pitfalls that can lead to picky eating. See our Do’s and Don’ts of Raising a Happy, Independent Eater.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with jackfruit?

Fresh jackfruit is eaten at different stages of ripeness. When jackfruit is young and green, the unripe bulbs are cream-colored, firm, and neutral in flavor. This is the type of jackfruit often marketed as a “meat substitute,” as it does a great job of soaking up flavor from your family’s favorite sauces. It can also be shredded to use in salads, slaws, and stir-fries—or stuffed into tacos or roasted vegetables. If you are using canned jackfruit to prepare a sweet or savory dish, consider what it is preserved in. While draining and rinsing canned jackfruit likely removes some of the sodium or sugar, it won’t remove all of it, so jackfruit preserved in brine will add a bit of a salty flavor to a dish, while jackfruit preserved in syrup will retain some sweetness. As jackfruit matures, the interior bulbs deepen in color and sweetness, developing a flavor that resembles mango and pineapple. Once peeled and de-seeded, the sweet bulbs can be eaten fresh out of hand or minced into chutneys and salsas. Ripe jackfruit is also a popular flavor in desserts like halo-halo from the Philippines and chakka pradhaman—a popular coconut rice pudding seasoned with cashews, raisins, and spices in the Kerala state of India.

★Tip: Fresh jackfruit releases an extremely sticky sap once it is cut open. Before you slice, place the fruit on parchment paper, waxed paper, or foil to protect your cutting board and coat your hands and knife with oil (coconut oil works well) to prevent the sap from sticking to your tools.

Recipe: Jackfruit Coconut Rice Porridge

Inspired by Kanji

Yield: 3 cups (720 milliliters)
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

This recipe contains common allergens: tree nut (cashew) and coconut (coconut milk). While coconut allergy is rare, it’s classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.

Directions

Across the southern region of India, people of all ages enjoy a warm, nourishing porridge known as kanji. From the Tamil language, the name may feel familiar to those outside the region: it is the inspiration for a similar dish with an anglicized name, congee. Kanji typically includes savory seasonings, such as cumin, curry leaves, fenugreek, or mustard seeds, but here it is sweetened by coconut and ripe fruit. Make it with rice or try it with cracked wheat, millet, or sorghum instead. In India, the dish often contains lentils or mung beans mixed into the grains as well.

  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
  2. Place the rice, water, coconut milk, and ginger in a pot.
  3. Cover and set the pot on medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat to create a gentle simmer.
  4. Uncover and let the mixture gently simmer while you prepare the jackfruit.
  5. Prepare the jackfruit. You may start with a whole jackfruit if you like, however, this recipe calls for a small amount of fruit, which means having plenty of extra fruit on your hands. If you are using whole jackfruit, store leftovers in airtight containers in the freezer for future meals. Otherwise, proceed with opening the can of jackfruit and draining and rinsing the fruit.
  6. Finely chop a few bulbs of jackfruit to yield 1 cup (240 milliliters). If you like, use a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle to chop the fruit into paste, or simply use your knife for a paste with a bit more texture. Stir the chopped jackfruit into the pot with the rice. Store any leftover fruit from the can in an airtight container in the freezer for a future meal.
  7. Cook the porridge, stirring occasionally, until the grains of rice are plump and falling apart and the mixture is creamy, up to 1 hour. If the porridge gets too thick before the rice has fully cooked, add more liquid to keep the mixture smooth.
  8. Remove the pot from heat and scoop some rice into baby’s bowl. Serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat. Allow baby’s rice to cool until it is warm or at room temperature.
  9. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle ground cashew (or any other nut that has been safely introduced) on top of baby’s kanji. If you are introducing the nut for the first time, use a scant amount–about ¼ teaspoon (½ gram).
  10. Offer baby the bowl of porridge and let the child try to self-feed. If you’d like to encourage baby to use utensils, pre-load a utensil and place it next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass a preloaded utensil in the air for the child to grab.

To Store: Jackfruit Coconut Rice Porridge keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 2 months. When freezing, measure the porridge into ½-cup or 1-cup containers, then store in the freezer. This way, you’ll have quick access to child-sized servings at future meals.

Flavor Pairings

Jackfruit pairs well with amaranth, coconut, cow’s milk, ghee, millet, and rice.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian & Nutritionist.

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist.

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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  6. Kabir, S, Fatteh, S. (2018). Jackfruit induced anaphylaxis associated birch pollen-related food allergies. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 121(5):S120. Retrieved March 3, 2022
  7. Bolhaar, S. T. H. P., Ree, R., Bruijnzeel-Koomen, C. a. F. M., Knulst, A. C., & Zuidmeer, L. (2004). Allergy to jackfruit: A novel example of Bet v 1-related food allergy. Allergy, 59(11), 1187–1192. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2004.00544.x. Retrieved March 6, 2022
  8. Oral Allergy Syndrome Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment | AAAAI. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2021
  9. Oral Allergy Syndrome Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment | AAAAI. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2021
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