Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cempedak Fruit (Artocarpus champeden)

Cempedak is a species of tree and its fruit in the family Moraceae. It is native to southeast Asia, occurring in Malaysia, Myanmar, Brunei,Indonesia and the Philippines (Palawan). It is very rare to find outside SE Asia.

The taste of the fruit is similar to the related Jackfruit and Breadfruit with a hint of Durian. A sweet, mild, and juicy pulp surrounds the peanut-like seeds in a thick layer between the husk and an inedible core. The outer husk of the fruit is slightly sticky. Fruits in Borneo may be nearly round and are hung by the stem as they become fragile when ripe. The soft fruits are very sweet with some fiber and a fairly smooth skin. They are smaller, less acidic and less fibrous than the jakfruit. The strongly odored fruits smell like durians when ripe, however if the peel is removed this will remove most of the odor.

The evergreen, branching cempedak tree can grow up to 20 m with wild trees often taller and having many more seeds in their fruit. Their smooth bark becomes thick and rough as they age. The leaves are dull to medium green and have long brown wiry hair on the surface. The fruits are seasonal and either barrel-shaped or pear-shaped. When cut, the fruit secretes sticky latex which can only be cleaned off with vegetable oil rather than with water. The outer rind consists of fleshy spines, although the fruit can still easily be opened with ones hands. In each fruit are about 100 to 500 seeds, and it is the fragrant, yellow edible flesh surrounding each seed, which the fruit is sought for.

How to grow
They are tropical in their growing requirements needing a warm, moist position and deep fertile soil in the full sun. Seedling trees start bearing after 3-6 years, they flower in Spring and the fruit mature 3-6 months later.

Usage and Potential
Cempedak's pulpy flesh and its hard seed are considered edible. The flesh is eaten fresh or cooked such as fried cempedak: a tasty Malay snack, or the pulp creamed to be used in making jams and cakes. The flesh is salted to make a pickle called jerami. The hard seeds are boiled or roasted and eaten, a popular practice amongst the Malayan jungle tribes. Besides the flesh and seed, the young leaves and whole young fruits are cooked as vegetables and made into pickles.

Other uses
The tree gives timber which is generally durable and is used for building houses and boats. Young timber can be ground and used as a yellow dye although a darker brown can be derived from older trees. In Indo-China, this yellow dye was used to dye the robes of Buddhist priests. The bark can also be used for making ropes while the latex is used for making lime.

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