JACKFRUIT NICE CREAM
One of the keys for me to maintaining a whole food diet is to continually keep it varied by seeking out produce I've never tried before. Often I turn to tropical fruits because they never disappoint my sweet tooth, and their colors and textures always entice me as an artist. I was recently talking with my good friend Tammy Nguyen, a brilliant painter, printmaker and bookmaker based in NYC and no stranger to tropical fruits. Tammy was born and raised in California where of course fresh produce is plentiful, and she traveled to Vietnam on a Fulbright Fellowship to study lacquer painting where she also surely ate well. She currently runs Passenger Pigeon Press, an independent press that addresses geopolitics, science, and identity through visual art and writing, and houses custom projects, artist collaborations, and a quarterly subscription of hand-made artist books. As talented as she is in the studio, Tammy happens to also be an awesome cook and just as knowledgable in the kitchen. I told her I had just tried the vegetable kohlrabi for the first time, and she said she often uses it in soups. I asked her what these round purple fruits were that I'd seen in the store last week and she recognized them immediately as mangosteen. Then we talked about dragonfruit, durian and papaya...
Above is a glimpse of Tammy in her studio along with her beautiful paintings and print work
Tammy asked if I'd ever tried jackfruit. I told her that I did only once before- last summer, and while I LOVED the taste it was simply waaaay too much work for me to ever try again. If you've ever seen jackfruit, it's the size of two bowling balls with a hard prickly skin, and it appears to require a chainsaw to hack open. It's so big it would not even fit into one of those small grocery baskets that you carry with one arm. It's baffling to think of how this heavy fruit (10-25 pounds!) manages to grow and dangle from a poor tree limb. If you do manage to open jackfruit without chopping off your arm, prying the edible fruit out of the inside labyrinth of pulp and giant seeds is a sweaty workout that will leave your hands covered in the most sticky sap you've ever touched, requiring multiple vigorous hand washes to even begin getting it off. Tammy of course laughed at my inexperience and explained that I should find a place that sells jackfruit already cut- like in Chinatown in NYC she said. I doubted I could find it sliced in my rural northeast corner of the country, but lo and behold the very next day after our conversation I spotted it at my town's local supermarket beautifully cut into a small manageable disk shape and wrapped neatly in plastic wrap. I could smell the fresh aroma and I easily remembered the heavenly sweet mango-like taste. I was all in. And I didn't even need a shopping cart to get it to the car.
Look for jackfruit in the produce section of your store already cut into wedges or disks. High in fiber and vitamin C, this delicious fruit is terrifically nutritious. Buy a slice and give it a try! Simply use your fingers or a paring knife to pry the bright yellow sections of fruit out of the pulp. Try to touch the pulp as little as possible, because it is CRAZY sticky. Pop out the seeds from each section of fruit and discard. I've read that the seeds can be eaten roasted, but that is sooooo not what I'm interested in here, so I'll confess I've just not tried that. You can enjoy the fruit pieces fresh, and store what's left in an air-tight glass container in the refrigerator or freezer. To make amazingly delicious ice cream without any dairy and processed sugars, follow the recipe below.
JACKFRUIT NICE CREAM
1 cup fresh or frozen jackfruit pieces
4 frozen bananas
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp cacao nibs
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
just enough filtered water to facilitate blending
Place the bananas, jackfruit and chia seeds in a high speed blender. Use the pulse setting and process until the fruit starts to break apart and combine. Blend on high, until you've achieved a thick, creamy and smooth ice cream consistency. Add filtered water 1 Tbsp at a time to help facilitate blending. Depending on whether you're using fresh or frozen jackfruit, you may need a little more or less water, but be cautious not to add too much or the consistency will become too liquidy like a smoothie rather than thick like ice cream. Top your jackfruit nice cream with cacao nibs and unsweetened coconut flakes for a tropical crunch. Enjoy!
Depending on what type of blender you have, you may need to stop and scrape down the blender with a spatula then resume blending, or you can use a tamper if you have a Vitamix.