The jackfruit is having its moment this year. The humble vegetable cum fruit has suddenly found followers and trolls in equal measure. That’s not all, recent studies claim that Jackfruit, widely used as vegan meat until now, will also used to make chocolate too in the near future.
A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry says that compounds found in jackfruit seed produce aromas similar to processed cocoa beans. What’s more, some companies have also gone ahead and done trails for the same. The resultant product, they claim, is very similar to chocolate made with 100% cocoa. That vacuum fried and powdered jackfruit seeds emanate aromas that mirror the fragrance of ground cocoa is one reason that’s pushing the experiment, Jackfruit’s nutritional value and abundance in India is another.
“Research shows that the jackfruit seed is highly nutrient rich. It has 17 out of 21 amino acids, and it is one of the best plant based protein,” informs James Joseph, also known as the Jackfruit man of India. Joseph feels if the ground seed can be used in something like a chocolate, it can address the nutritional challenges that Indian children face today—“as long as we can communicate its benefits effectively.” While Jackfruit 365, Joseph’s organization, already makes jackfruit flour, they he is also working on ways to incorporate jackfruit seeds into a spread. “Jackfruit seed is nutty, so we are looking at a possibility of making an equivalent of Nutella with it.”
Of every fruit used for its pulp at jackfruit processing units, dozens of seeds are amassed as waste. Most producers struggle to utilize them productively and getting rid of the bio mass is a task. It was this wastage that led the managing director of Campco Ltd. to try roasting and grinding jackfruit seeds at their chocolate facility at Puttur. “We wanted to check if we can process the jackfruit seeds in our factory,” Mr. Suresh Bhandary, MD Campco Ltd. informs. As a result of the trial his team found that vacuum fried and ground jackfruit seed powder comes very close cocoa in its properties. They have also tested using dehydrated jackfruit pulp in chocolate bars as a replacement of almond.
While the chocolate bars with bits of dried jackfruit pulp are still under observation for stability and shelf life, the powder has already been tested in Winner, Campco’s popular chocolate drink. “In terms of taste, flavour and miscibility with milk, it is perfect,” smiles Bhandary. The team is now looking at getting a nutritional report on the sample, which will help them decide future course of action.
Liso Chocolatier in Kochi meanwhile are very close to coming out with a chocolate that has a significant percentage of jackfruit. “We are at the final stages of testing chocolate with about 10% of jackfruit flour,” Jacob Joy, Managing Director Liso Chocolates tells us over the phone from Kochi. The chocolate, he further informs, not only includes jackfruit seed but also the pulp. Using only one part, he says, would mean wasting a significant quantity of the fruit and cutting down its nutritional value. “The chocolate we are working on will be usable in several forms; you can make it into a bar or coat over nuts and biscuits, it will be as versatile as chocolate,” asserts Jacob. Given additional benefits like slow release starch, high protein, and lower carbohydrate, this chocolate, he feels, will appeal not only to connoisseurs but also the health and fitness conscious.
So how long will one have to wait to sample the jackfruit chocolate? While Bhandary says he cannot put a timeline to it, Jacob promises to have an update in the next few months. Going by the promise it holds, we can only hope to sample the jackfruit chocolate at the earliest.
An edited version of this story first appeared in The Hindu.
Pictures Courtesy: Liso Chocolate; Jackfruit 365.