Many of those that have converted to a plant-based diet keep raving about how great jackfruit is as a substitute for meat. Plenty of others who have also converted keep asking, “what the heck is jackfruit?”
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that looks like a giant wart, but don’t let this stop you from trying it! When it is eaten ripe, the meat has a slightly sweet and juicy tropical flavor. Some describe it as the love child of a pineapple, mango and banana. Others say that it Juicy Fruit gum tried to mimic its flavor. The unripe kind can be eaten as well and is actually perfect when used in savoury meals.
Because it has a meaty texture, it is often used as a “meat substitute” to add to the main course. A cup of uncooked jackfruit has 155 calories, 2.6 g fiber, magnesium and a good amount of potassium. Although it only has 2.4 g of protein, this shouldn’t deter you from including it in your meals.
Where can you use unripe jackfruit?
Washington-based chef and co-author of The Pescetarian Plan, Sidra Forman said that “jackfruit is more of a texture than a flavor.”
“It’s very versatile in that it picks up seasoning very well, and can easily be replaced for ground meat, pulled meat, or shredded chicken in most recipes. It can be pan-roasted, baked, or grilled,” she added.
She explains that it works well with Asian spices, curry, lime and chili, and even just olive oil, salt and pepper. “As a whole, plant-based food, jackfruit is unique. You might be able to get a similar result with seitan, tempeh, or a soy product, but none of those are single-ingredient whole foods.”
Since it’s not high in protein, you can pair it with something that is. “In a stir fry, you might add some crumbled tofu, or you can use jackfruit as a topping over a high-protein bean pasta.”
Where can you get jackfruit?
Because of the popularity of this humble fruit, The Jackfruit Company now sells heat-and-eat prepared meals with jackfruit. They have flavours like red kidney beans, jackfruit, tomato and rustic herbs that is a must-try. Trader Joe’s also carries a jackfruit curry meal.
If you want to buy unripe jackfruit to cook on your own, you will most likely need to get it frozen or canned. Seeing jackfruit in the produce aisle in the US will usually be the ripe fruit you can eat as a dessert, so make sure you’re getting the unripe kind if you want to use it in a savoury meal.