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No Lack For Jack

a Vegan fruit extravaganza

By Zel HarrisonPublished 3 years ago 6 min read
biggest fruit I ever saw

At the beginning, of the Pandumbpanic, a bunch of friends vowed that no matter what transpired, we would stay on our diets, sleek and fit, and keep our respective groups safe and happy. Ten of us buddies, set out to have enough food in every nook and cranny of our living spaces. That was so that we could make great dinners with several families living together, and trade when necessary. The crie de jere in the beginning was to store superfluous amounts of cans and dry goods in cabinets, under the beds, in the garage and in my stomach.

When I couldn’t read another book, watch another YouTube video, or reach out to a nonprofit I am working with, my midnight escapades took me to banging six donuts at a time down my mouth. I kid you not, the choreography was to cup my hands around the circle of delight, and within about five pops it was gone. The sound it made as it went into my oral cavity was a popping noise. The kind you would make if you pulled your thumb out of your mouth with tight lips. Then the guilt surfaced, and for the rest of the night I thought “woe is me”, what am I going to do, about my sweetaholic situation? I was hooked, and was probably addicted to the sugar thing, long before the lock downs. It was a conundrum waiting to happen. It didn’t matter where the sweets were hidden. It just made it even more intriguing to find them. There were times I would call friends and ask if they had a little something for poor Zell. I told them I had great items for trade, like stamps, a sack of new potatoes, Jell-O cups, a jar of pintos, toilet tissue, and anything that would get me a dessert trade.

We all got fluffy except for Che who is one of the inner circle friends and a colleague in some arts programs. Che is all of five feet tall, slim, lithe, full of vim and vigor and a very great story teller. She is a stoic I might add. Every night Che’s family ate plenty of food buffet style, and enjoyed a full round of desserts. She had a secret diet regime and for all of us pandemic fatties, I had to know. Six months into this knock your socks constant weight gain, I decided with permission, to come over and interview my dear friend.

As soon as I entered Che's house, you saw her sister and kids in the kitchen. We had spent a lot of time at each other's homes, but this time, I took good mental notes. Everybody cooking in the kitchen was without distraction. No televisions, ipads or cellphones were allowed. There was total food prep concentration in her small fragrant kitchen. On the stove, there were three simultaneous three quart pots of mixed veggies and one pot of white rice. A pan of sesame oil with little peppers was ever so gently simmered. Then my eye balls found their way to the top of the counter for a presentation of coconut balls and a yellow dessert that Che told me was a Vegan raw cheesecake made with Jack Fruit. I had never heard of a Jack fruit and was determined to find out.

And then…. Vegan desserts. Vegan. The word swirled around my brain, and I tried to capture the images of the desserts I was seeing on the counter for my own home experiments. Was Che and her family Vegan? When I asked Che about it, she said that they were not, but that the desserts offered less sugar and white flour that the body had a hard time digesting.

One morning I went outside to check my front doorstep after hearing a gentle tap. The biggest, stinkiest, ugly and yet beautiful looking fruit was on my doorstep. It must have weighed about seven pounds. Come to find out the largest ones in Indonesia can get up to 120 pounds. The fruit is laden with antioxidants vitamin C, and trace minerals, but is high in natural sugar. The rind was covered with tread like rivets all of the fruit. Note the picture. Holding it was a pokey cumbersome proposition. It had tiny treads like protrusions from a pin cushion.

What was I going to do with this pneumatic process of serving and eating this fruit? What worlds lay inside of this fruit phenomenon?

I quickly went inside, and after showing off with the fruit, I got everyone’s attention. My neighbor from Thailand was visiting and she guided me through the whole process with a quieting voice and long graceful hands. It felt like a ASMR meditation as I learned to open this fruit for the first time.

1. Gently greet your fruit and give it a good hello pat.

2. Place the fruit on a long piece of wax paper that has been gently patted with coconut oil.

3. Gently pat the fruit with coconut oil in case you cut into a sappy area. A ripe fruit will not typically exude sap.

4. Use a serrated knife that has been oiled and begin to cut your fruit horizontally. Make sure you have a good give on both sides of the fruit

5. Once the fruit is open, cut out the core. It may take some time to do this, and use the knife to keep sawing until the core lifts.

6. At this point you will observe cavities where a deeply yellow wedge of fruit will slide out with guidance. Inside of the wedge is a pit.

7. You can save the pits to boil for another meal.

Eating the fruit

This was the most unusual experience for a gaggle of people who never ate Jackfruit. How can I describe his experience without sounding like I was in ecstasy? The fruit tasted like a combination of bubble gum, Juicy fruit gum, bananas, pineapples kiwi, and pears all rolled into one, depending on what side of your mouth it was on. Major salivating is involved and causes cheering and wowing for the evening. The fruit is so delicious that you may have images of your primitive development as a hunter gatherer, and you will have a new desire to explore natural fruit desserts in the Vegan world. I wanted to climb trees and hug everybody. Yes that might be a Vegan thing too.

This is a basic and similar recipe that I borrowed from Sweetly Desserts, by Heather Pace. The book was published by Quarry Books and offers some of the most incredible Vegan raw desserts for newbies like me.

Che’s dessert is very similar, but she does not add any toppings, and is quite delicious with herb tea.

Jackfruit Cheesecake

Vegan - Raw- Gluten Free - Grain Free - Soy Free - Refined Sugar Free

Crust

1/2 cup almonds

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour

1/3 cup raisins. This is what Grandma added to her recipe

1 teaspoon water

Grind the almonds to flour in a food processor. Add the coconut, flour, and raisins. Process until the raisins are broken down. Add the water and pulse to incorporate. Press into a 6" spring form pan.

Filling

1 cup packed dried Jackfruit

1 1/4 cup hot water

1 cup cashews

1/4 cup agave or coconut nectar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

2 tablespoons melted coconut butter

Soak the Jackfruit in the water for 3-4 hours, or until soft. Blend the jackfruit, soak water, cashews, nectar, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth in a high speed blender. Add the coconut oil and butter. Blend to incorporate. Pour the filling over the crust. Chill in the freezer for 2-4 hours and then in the fridge for 12 hours.

Garnish

For an extra special touch, dip extra dried Jackfruit and coconut chips into melted dark chocolate, let the chocolate harden and then arrange on the top of the cake.

vegan

About the Creator

Zel Harrison

I travel with a nap sack on my back to gather stories and sit in the circle of humanity.

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    Zel HarrisonWritten by Zel Harrison

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