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What Is a Cempedak?

The jackfruit is closely related to the cempedak.
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  • Written By: Douglas Bonderud
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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A cempedak is a fruit found predominantly in Malaysia and Thailand. It is also known as chempedak. This fruit comes from the Artocarpus integer tree. The term 'Artocarpus' is derived from two Greek words, artos, meaning bread, and karpus, meaning fruit.

These trees grow up to 49 ft (15 m) tall, and are found in low-lying rain forests. The leaves of the tree are a dull green and have brown hair on them. When it is young, the cempedak tree has smooth bark that grows rough as it ages.

Cempedak fruit is yellow, brown, or green in color, and contains between 100 and 500 seeds. The fruit is barrel or pear-shaped, while the seeds are shaped like kidneys. These seeds are surrounded by a soft yellow flesh which can be eaten without cooking or other preparation. The flesh has a sweet taste and strong smell, and is the most often used part of the fruit.

Seeds of this fruit can also be roasted and eaten, as can the flesh around the seeds. This part is also used for making jams and cakes, and can be salted to make a form of jerky. Whole fruits are also cooked and eaten. In Malaysia, the tree is grown commercially for food production purposes.

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Spines cover the outside edge of the cempedak fruit, but it can still be easily opened by hand. When a cempedak fruit is opened, it will excrete a sticky substance. This requires an oil-based product to remove, since water is ineffective.

Closely related to cempedak fruit is the jackfruit. Jackfruits have the same pulpy flesh around their seeds, but are less sweet than chempedak. The jackfruit is also almost perfectly round, and does not exhibit the characteristic narrowing found around the middle of cempedak fruits. The flesh is also considered more suitable for dessert dishes than that from a jackfruit.

For this plant to grow properly, a continuously irrigated environment is required. These trees are found only in areas that have no truly dry season. A chempedak tree requires a minimum mean rainfall of 50 in (1,250 mm).

These trees are evergreen and will bear fruit once or twice per year. In addition to its function as a food crop, the chempedak tree is also cultivated for its wood, which is durable and resistant to termites. The bark is used in the production of the yellow dye used on the saffron-colored robes of Buddhist monks.

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