- Brazilian and UK researchers said a panel of 162 people identified a chocolate-like aroma in flour made from roasted jackfruit seeds, according to Food Navigator.
- Their study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, said the moisture, color and pH of jackfruit seeds are similar to cocoa. Panelists identified the most cocoa-like aroma in moderately roasted and fermented jackfruit flour.
- Researchers said the study holds promise for jackfruit's ability to mimic the aroma of chocolate should international cocoa demand outstrip supply.
Fears that world cocoa demand could exceed availability are tied to persistently low and volatile prices, combined with the threat of swollen shoot virus disease and a lack of sufficient warehouse storage capacity in the major cocoa production areas of West Africa, South America and Asia. The International Cocoa Organization said about 4.7 million tons of cocoa are currently being produced worldwide, with total production expected to rise about 18% from 2016.
It's still early as far as the jackfruit being used as a substitute for cocoa. Even if the fruit has many of the same characteristics as cocoa, if it does not mirror the taste or texture, it could instantly turn off consumers. It's also uncertain how well the flour made from roasted jackfruit seeds would work with other ingredients used to make chocolate, or how much it would cost to produce the cocoa-like substitute. Figuring out these answers will go a long way toward determining whether it can displace cocoa in even a small amount of foods.
Developing additional U.S. markets for the popular jackfruit — now used in ice cream, smoothies, soups and side dishes — could stimulate new income streams, along with adding value and reducing widespread waste in places where it grows.
Jackfruit is the world's largest tree-borne fruit, capable of reaching sizes of more than 80 pounds, growing both on branches and the trunks of trees native to South and East Asia. It's botanically related to figs, mulberries and breadfruit. It also has a dual identity. If it’s left to ripen, it becomes amazingly fruity and has been rumored to be the inspiration for the flavor of Juicy Fruit gum.
The fruit is increasingly popular with U.S. consumers. Pinterest named jackfruit as the top food item people will be trying in 2017 based on a 420% increase in interest among users of the social media platform. Vegetarians and vegans are driving some of this interest because of jackfruit's evolving role as a meat substitute, despite its relative lack of protein.
Jackfruit delivers a powerful nutritional package as a significant source of vitamin A, C and the B-complex vitamins, dietary fiber and several important minerals, particularly potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron. Among its other assets, jackfruit contains no cholesterol and virtually no fat.