Meet the “New” Meat Alternative: Jackfruit

You may have seen the articles talking about a fruit that you can eat like pulled pork. You may have even been shocked to see images where it was prepared and looked almost identical to a pulled pork sandwich. This has probably got you wondering, what exactly is jackfruit and is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Or… Maybe you’re going into this completely new to jackfruit, never heard of it, never seen those pictures, and just wondering what it is.

What is it and what’s it taste like?

Jackfruit is a rather large fruit. It can get up to 80lbs, it’s actually the largest fruit that grows on trees. A jackfruit tree can feed many. There are two harvest seasons a year and a tree produces around 150 jackfruits in a year. Plus, the tree can grow in hot temperatures. The outer shell of the fruit makes it pretty pest resistant too. This fruit tree is natively grown in South India and it can also be found growing in other countries with tropical climates.

Incredibility versatile, the fruit can be consumed raw or cooked, unripe or ripe, and in various dishes.  It’s been used in ice cream, curries, and to make flour. A ripe jackfruit (yellow) has a sweet flavor, it’s been said to be a cross between various fruits. Some of have said it tastes like a mix of apples, mangoes, pineapples, and bananas, while others have said it simply tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a mango. When the fruit is ripe, it has a mild, sweet, and satisfying fruity taste that can be consumed as a treat. While, unripe, jackfruit is not as sweet, making it a good option for cooking up a faux pulled pork sandwich or adding it to curries and other savory dishes. Jackfruit’s texture has been compared to that of chicken or pork, and it takes on seasonings well.

Is it a good meat alternative?

Jackfruit isn’t quite the meat alternative that some may claim it to be. While it is nutritious, and offers various antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and it’s got 3 grams of fiber per cup, it’s not super high in protein. It does contain “more than 3 grams of protein per cup.” The protein content is high for a fruit, but there are other meat alternatives with a more impressive protein count: peas, legumes, seeds, and nuts for example. So, if you’re looking to use jackfruit as a meat alternative, you may just want to adjust your recipe to include additional protein in it, or include some of the seeds which have a higher protein content (plus calcium, potassium, and iron).

There’s so much you can do with jackfruit though, and it does offer good nutrition. So, why not try it out? They sell it in canned versions or premade packages at various stores. Finding it fresh may be difficult depending on where you’re located, but some markets in the world offer fresh jackfruit, often sold precut. You see, the part you eat is actually a fruit pod inside. The outer spiky shell is cut open, and there are fruit pods inside, these pods are taken out and can be sold by the pound at markets. This makes it easier for the consumer to get the amount they want. If you do purchase a whole jackfruit, be forewarned, it’s a lot of fruit, and there is a sticky fleshy section inside that can stain. You’ll probably want to wear gloves when preparing it.

Jackfruit is popular in various warmer regions, but in the U.S. it hasn’t quite caught fire yet. More people are learning about it though, as vegans, vegetarians, and those looking to reduce their meat intake adopt new ways to supplement meat. And, for foodies always looking for new foods to try, this is another adventure.

If you’re ready to try jackfruit, check out this list of recipes,  and connect with us on Facebook to let us know what you think of it.

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