Jackfruit is a large tree fruit native to Asian countries, and it has long been a staple food in South and Southeast Asia. In America, unripe jack fruit seems to be the next big thing, especially in the vegan cooking world! In 2016, using jackfruit as a healthful stand-in for meat was the most popular food and beverage trend on Pinterest. Jackfruit flesh is starchy and fibrous with a consistency much like cooked meat, allowing it shred easily and stand in as a meat-free taco filling or a meatless pulled “pork” sandwich. Like other starches, jackfruit can be cooked with the flavors you want it to take on, making it a good meat substitute in BBQ, Mexican, teriyaki and curry dishes.
Canned jackfruit is easiest to work when preparing recipes such as BBQ Jackfruit. Canned jackfruit is commonly sold in Asian grocery stores, although some chains in the U.S. such as Whole Foods and Wegman’s are starting to carry it, and more will likely follow suit if its trendiness continues! Look for canned jackfruit packed in water or brine (as opposed to syrup), and rinse before using it in recipes.
If you can’t find canned jackfruit and want to try fresh, look for unripe fruit that is not yet fragrant and still firm. Be prepared to deal with stickiness and mess, as jackfruit contains a sap that adheres to knives, cutting boards and hands. Additionally, fresh jackfruit is large and cumbersome: it typically weighs between five and thirty pounds, although a single fruit can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to three feet long! Instructions for cutting and handling fresh jackfruit are available here.
Jackfruit has many nutritional benefits: it contains fiber, protein, Vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and other essential minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium and potassium. Additionally, jackfruit is fat, cholesterol and sodium free, making it a suitable meat alternative for those watching their heart health!
Will you take part in this food trend and try jackfruit in 2017? If so, leave a comment below letting us know what you plan to do!
Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, email@example.com
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