Jackfruit: Its Benefits, Taste and Ways To Enjoy It!
Jackfruit is experiencing its moment in the limelight — and for good reason! This fruit has become especially popular lately because of something known as ‘jackfruit pulled pork’, which is a delicious and nutritious vegan alternative to the popular meat dish.
Read on to find out more about this extremely versatile fruit and why everyone is loving it!
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit (Artocarpus Heterophyllus) is a very large, rounded fruit that comes in a yellowish-green colour, with little spikes around its outer surface. In fact, it is the largest fruit in the world that grows from a tree — a single jackfruit can weigh up to 40 kgs (80 lbs)! The jackfruit tree is commonly grown in subtropical and tropical climates, such as south-east Asian countries. In these regions, it’s an everyday fruit that is used in a variety of meals, ranging from curries to desserts.
So why has it become a new hot topic? In English-speaking countries, such as America and Australia, jackfruit has begun to gain momentum as a favourite food to cook with because of its versatility and ability to be used as an alternative to pork.
Jackfruit is considered beneficial for a number of reasons. Here are some of them!
1. Jackfruit is a great meat replacement
Jackfruit pulled pork is one of the hottest vegan trends! While it might sound strange, jackfruit can act as a replacement to pulled pork when cooked in a barbecue sauce, and a delicious one at that! Simply cut it up, boil it for about 45 minutes until it becomes stringy, then mix it with your favourite sauce. You can then add it to sandwiches or tacos!
2. Jackfruit is filled with nutrients
Natural jackfruits are packed with nutrients! Just half a cup of a young jackfruit has zero fat, zero sugar and is rich in fibre, potassium, vitamins A and C, magnesium and vitamin B6. Just be mindful that even though it can be used as a meat replacement, jackfruit is actually very low in protein so you will need to consider other protein sources as well, to help you reach your daily intake.
3. It’s a good fruit for our changing environment
Many people believe that jackfruit is the next big thing that can help us be more environmentally friendly! Why? The jackfruit tree is efficient at producing fruit in warm climates — a single tree can produce up to 200 jackfruits a year. This rate of production can mean less land is needed to grow a commercial crop, something that can mean less impact on the environment, particularly in comparison to meat production. As many people believe that jackfruit could be used as an alternative to meat, this could potentially reduce meat production and the environmental impact that can come with it.
Ways to eat jackfruit
One of the reasons why jackfruit is so popular is because it can be eaten at nearly any stage. As it ripens, its taste and consistency changes which makes it a really versatile fruit to use in a variety of recipes!
How to open jackfruit
Jackfruit can be one of the trickiest fruits to open. Not only does it have an extremely tough exterior but the jackfruit skin and core contains a sticky sap that may make it a bit messy to get open. Once you learn how to open jackfruit though, its delicious taste is worth it! Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the jackfruit open and cut the fruit into quarters, similar to the way you might cut a pineapple or a large melon.
Once a jackfruit is cut open it contains little yellow, edible pods. These are the most commonly used part of the fruit — all you need to do is remove the seeds from within them.
That said, jackfruit seeds are also a popular part of the fruit to eat. Jackfruit seeds are said to taste similar to hazelnuts and can be made into a powder, or eaten on their own. Just be mindful that you can’t eat them raw — the seeds need to be properly boiled or roasted before eating them, otherwise it may be poisonous.
Many Asian cultures also use jackfruit leaves for cooking — the leaves can be used to wrap food in while cooking, similar to the way a banana leaf is used.
When a jackfruit first grows, it starts off a greenish colour. When it is young, it has more of a neutral flavour to it — many people believe it tastes like artichokes. It also has a stringy consistency. It’s at this young, unripe stage that it can be used as a meat alternative and is when it can be used for jackfruit pulled pork. As the flavour is so subtle at this stage it can be used in a wide variety of meals, as it complements the flavours that it is cooked with.
As a jackfruit matures, it becomes softer and sweeter in flavour. Some liken its taste to a combination of fruits such as pineapple, mangoes and banana. Even though it is sweeter at this stage, its taste is still versatile enough that it can be used in any type of meal, including dishes like curries.
When jackfruit reaches its final ripening stage it becomes much sweeter, which is why it makes a popular dessert or an addition to desserts or healthy smoothies.
Where to get jackfruit
If jackfruit isn’t local to your area, then try sourcing it through your closest Asian supermarket or marketplace.
If it seems too much to try and conquer opening the jackfruit rind yourself, this fruit can also be bought pre-prepared in a can or in the refrigerator section of food stores. Just be mindful that sometimes packaged fruit like this can contain additives or sweeteners as well — be sure to choose one that has the jackfruit packaged in water and is free from any other hidden nasties.
Give jackfruit a go
There are so many reasons to try incorporating jackfruit into your meals! Adding variety to your diet can make it easier to follow a healthy lifestyle and help you to stay on track with your health — and this versatile fruit can be used in so many different ways.
We’d love to hear how you went preparing a meal that included jackfruit! Let us know how you go in the comments below.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.