Until my friend decided to be adventurous and buy a jackfruit at our local Whole Foods, I had no idea what the giant, spiky, green-brown mass actually was. Honestly, the fruit looked pretty terrifying, not to mention that it weighed an impressive 16-pounds—more than double the weight of your average Yorkie.

It turns out that jackfruit is the world's largest tree-born fruit, and it's also pretty good for you. As jackfruit is becoming increasingly popular as a meat alternative, you'll want to know how to cut and prepare this daunting fruit. While I learned that it's definitely not easy, it isn't entirely impossible either. 

Picking out your jackfruit

Often times, you won't really have the luxury of picking out your jackfruit at the grocery store in the same way that you would pick out an avocado or an apple. From what I've seen, grocers such as Whole Foods usually bring out one or two jackfruits, as if they're waiting for those special buyers to come along and take the risk of buying a whole fruit. 

If you do have the option of picking out your jackfruit however, it's important to make sure that it's soft. If you can gently push into the jackfruit and if it lets you leave gentle indents in it with your fingers, then chances are the jackfruit is perfectly ripe. Unlike a lot of other fruits, you can also smell a ripe jackfruit. It gives off a strong, sweet-smelling odor when it's ripe that is irresistible: it almost makes you feel like you're on an island getaway.  

If you buy a jackfruit that isn't ripe, that's okay, too. It just needs time to ripen. If you try to cut a jackfruit that isn't quite ripe yet, then there's no guarantee that you'll win that battle. Jackfruits are tricky, so it's an absolute must to make sure your jackfruit is ripe before you decide to cut into it.

Supplies you'll need

You cannot cut a jackfruit without wearing latex or rubber gloves. Some people also choose to grease up their hands and knife with oil. While that's also a viable option, I think it sounds like a slippery disaster waiting to happen, especially if your cutting skills aren't the greatest. The gloves (or oil) are necessary because jackfruits contain a natural, sticky resin or latex that makes a big mess when the fruit is opened. 

You'll also want to make sure you line your cutting surface with something that you can throw away or remove to make the clean-up a low-hassle and minimal-mess experience. When we cut our jackfruit, we lined the table with saran wrap, which definitely made the clean-up easier. 

Lastly, wash your jackfruit before cutting into it. As with any other fruit, you want to make sure that your jackfruit is clean. But don't be fooled: it definitely won't stay that way for long. Jackfruit latex doesn't mess around. It's sticky. Very sticky. 

Cutting your jackfruit

This was definitely the trickiest part, and we brought all hands on deck when we cut into our jackfruit. The process required strength, endurance, and determination. When we finally finished cutting the jackfruit, we looked and felt like we had been in a crazy fight scene from a James Bond movie, and we just barely managed to win the battle. All the YouTube videos definitely made the jackfruit-cutting experience look much easier than it actually was.

I found that the most effective way to cut the jackfruit was by first splitting it in half length-wise. You can then cut it length-wise again. While many people suggest cutting it into quarters, we ended up cutting the jackfruit into multiple, long segments. Maybe that's just because we're terrible with knives, but I found smaller jackfruit slices to be more manageable. 

Next, cut out the solid core inside of the jackfruit, and begin removing the pockets of soft, orange fruit that are within the jackfruit. There's basically a lot of extra "stuff" inside, and I found that I had to wrestle with it in order to get out the actually "meat," which really looks like a hybrid between guava, papaya, and mango. There are giant seeds in the jackfruit, too, but you can save those and boil or roast them like chestnuts.

After a long-fought battle, you'll finally have your fruit and seeds sorted. If you have trouble with it like I did, you may feel like you've just run a marathon. Check out this tutorial for some extra help.

The allergy test before the taste test

As with anything, it is possible to be allergic to jackfruit. Although jackfruit is not high on the radar for people who react negatively to fruit and vegetables that contain natural rubber latex, it's still important to know that latex-fruit syndrome exists, so people with lots of fruit and vegetable allergies should check to see if they're allergic to jackfruit before consuming it.

My friend performed her own allergy test by lightly itching or scratching at her skin and then rubbing a small piece of jackfruit onto that area. Within a few minutes, she had developed slight hives on her skin, making it clear that she would not be eating the jackfruit. As with anything, it's best to double-check if you'll have the same, negative reaction.

Trying your jackfruit raw

Jackfruit can be eaten raw and that's the way I preferred it. The texture is a bit slimy and sticky for my liking, but the taste is really sweet, unique, and delicious. It's as if a banana, papaya, guava, mango, and pineapple all had a baby. The taste was tropical, yet unfamiliar and sweet, yet not overbearingly so. It was truly unlike any other fruit I've had before, and I definitely recommend trying the jackfruit raw before you decide to cook it.

Cooking your jackfruit 

Unfortunately, my friends and I could not have done a worse job cooking the jackfruit, and it's safe to say that we definitely did something, or maybe everything, wrong. We just added some olive oil to the jackfruit and placed it in the oven as if we were roasting zucchini or any other vegetable. The jackfruit started to smell awful as it cooked, and the final product was burnt on the outside yet still slimy and kind of raw on the inside. It definitely wasn't enjoyable, but we were to blame. Cook your jackfruit by following a recipe.

There are so many delicious ways to prepare this treat. The most common method is jackfruit pulled pork, which is a vegetarian or vegan alternative to a BBQ sandwich. You can also put jackfruit in spring rolls and on pizza, or you can make jackfruit tacos. And if you're not feeling up to the challenge of wrestling with the jackfruit, you can buy pre-diced jackfruit in a can, so you don't have to go through the hassle of cutting it yourself. 

With a variety of jackfruit-preparation options, you never have to eat it the same way twice. Raw or cooked, the jackfruit experience is definitely worth having. You can try it out for yourself, whether you decide to cut and prepare the jackfruit from scratch or go straight for the can. No matter what, it's sure to be enjoyable.