I want to introduce you to (or remind you of) the largest, weirdest, stickiest fruit ever.
It smells funny, weighs 20-70lbs, is green and bumpy on the outside, and has a core of industrial strength adhesive inside. Sound appetizing? It’s amazing.
While jackfruit is native to India, it can be found all over Uganda. In south central, it’s affectionately referred to as ffene (fen-neh).
It’s low in saturated fat, and super high in potassium, calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C and B-6. It grows year round. It’s drought resistant, heat resistant, you can eat it ripe (yum!) or unripened and cooked as a meat substitute. The seeds can be made into a savoury paste, the leaves are a nice treat for the family goats, and the tree is a hard wood.
It’s not only infinitely useful, it’s a freaking superfood!
The Real Uganda offers 2 – 12 week locally-led communty-based volunteer programs.
Now, I’m not actually trying to sell you jackfruit because of its natural properties and its potential to replace starchy staples as global climate change plays havoc with food security in many countries. I want you to know just how wonderfully cultural jackfruit is – at least for us, here in Uganda.
Truthfully, my first jackfruit experience was in Jamaica. I was given some as a tourist. Not particularly social, so not particularly memorable. Upon arriving in Uganda, I was finally properly exposed to jackfruit.
You see, Ugandans are a social people. Almost everyone in Uganda has a home village. And that home has jackfruit trees. Sharing jackfruit with 17 of your closest friends and family, is a serious childhood memory. In fact, urban Ugandans, stuck in their Kampala offices, order small plates of perfectly cut and cleaned jackfruit to share, as an afternoon snack.
Nostalgic and social for them, an income generating activity for their supplier!
Take a walk through any small holder farm. You’ll see men and women digging. After a while, you’ll see them sitting in the shade, sharing a jackfruit, and chatting away. It’s very hydrating after a sunny morning in the garden.
More than once I’ve been approached in the village by a 3 foot little guy holding a giant panga in one hand, and a 25lb jackfruit in the other. Before you can say “what the…” he’s got the thing cut open and is offering you some. Welcome food.
Hospitality is not a joking subject in Uganda.
See this guy? He’s called Fred. But not in our compound. Here, he’s called Uncle Ffene. He climbs our jackfruit trees, taps them for ripeness, throws them down, cuts them open and feeds everyone!
He’s a popular guy. Our kids can’t get enough of him, or enough jackfruit for that matter!
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When new volunteers arrive in Mukono, they almost always get to try. We love to share. And it never fails to satisfy, even if it is a bit of a culture shock.
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Anyone out there have any rad photos with jackfruit? Please forward – we’ll feature them on our Instagram (#jackfruit)!
Want to try eating jackfruit yourself? Time to start planning your trip to Uganda. Fill in the box below and we’ll get you started!