Jackfruit is a trending fruit that has everyone talking. Why? Because it is a chewy and sweet meat substitute that mother nature so kindly gifted to us.
Unlike vegan meat substitutes loaded with soy and wheat (You might also want to check out How To Cook Bulgur Wheat), jackfruit is entirely of the earth (well trees, really).
This means your favorite pulled pork step-in is loaded with fiber and nutrients that most meat-free substitutes sadly are not.
If you have seen jackfruit on a restaurant menu and thought; what in the world does that taste like? You’re about to find out.
This article will take a good and honest look at jackfruit from all sides. What it is, how it tastes, where to source it, and how to cook with it – jackfruit and you are going to be well acquainted very soon.
What Is Jackfruit?
Before getting into the particulars of how a jackfruit tastes, we thought it would be wise to find out exactly what it is first.
Though Jackfruit is fairly new to the U.S food scene, there is nothing new about it.
Native to countries like India, Thailand, and Bangladesh, in Asia, jackfruit has been a nutritious source of food for hundreds of years.
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that needs a tropical climate to prosper. If grown in the correct climatic conditions, jackfruit can grow to be the largest tree-born fruit – up to 100 pounds to be exact!
On top of feeding the people of Asia for hundreds of years, jackfruit has also been used for medicinal purposes.
Prized for its antifungal and antimicrobial properties, as well as being high in antioxidants – Asia’s appreciation runs deep for jackfruit.
Jackfruit has thick and rippled skin that aims to protect it in the wild. Once you cut a jackfruit open, you will notice it is filled with a bounty of plump pods.
When jackfruit is fully ripened, these pods are soft, with a texture that can be compared to banana. However, this is not the jackfruit that most of us know.
Jackfruit that is used as a meat substitute is generally picked before it is ripe. Under ripe jackfruit has a firm and chewy texture that does a good job of replicating the texture of meat.
What Does Jackfruit Taste Like?
One of the big reasons why jackfruit is so hot right now is because it doesn’t really taste of much. While this may seem like a strange prospect on the first appraisal, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Jackfruit is typically used as a pulled pork and chicken substitute. Its mild flavor coupled with its meaty texture makes under ripe jackfruit perfect for dousing in a sweet and sticky marinade that gives the impression of pulled pork and chicken.
On the flip side, ripe jackfruit has a more distinct flavor. Its sweet flavor is comparable to other powerhouse tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, and melon.
The sweeter side of ripe jackfruit is not so desirable for savory meat substitute dishes which is why most jackfruit bought and sold in the U.S is under ripe.
That being said, you can still find ripe jackfruit if you know where to look that is perfect to snack on and add to superfood smoothies.
What Is Jackfruit Packing?
One of the coolest things about jackfruit as a meat substitute is that it is a fruit.
Unlike soy and wheat which have very little vitamins, nutrients, and fiber to their name, jackfruit is loaded with the stuff.
To help you wrap your head around what exactly jackfruit is packing; let’s investigate a 100-gram portion of jackfruit.
It is suggested that there are three grams of fiber, two grams of protein, and 95 calories in 100 grams of jackfruit.
Two other desirable traits of jackfruit are that it features both potassium and antioxidants.
The one downside to jackfruit is that it has a considerably lower amount of protein when compared to meat and other meat substitutes.
How Do You Prepare Jackfruit?
One disclaimer on the preparation of jackfruit – it’s not easy. That being said, preparing a jackfruit will become easier and quicker with time, so if you are interested in it, there is never a better time to start than now.
First things first, you will need to cut the jackfruit in half, lengthways, so that it is entirely of two parts.
Once your jackfruit is in two parts, it is time to get your hands dirty (and sticky). Remove the jackfruit pods and their seeds then discard the skin and flesh.
Once the pods have been removed, it is really up to you how you want to play it. Jackfruit pods can be eaten both raw and cooked.
If you prefer your jackfruit cooked, we would suggest frying them off in a pan or whacking them in the slow cooker with a sweet and tangy sauce for a couple of hours.
If all of the above sounds like too much work and you don’t want to work for your jackfruit, there is an easier way. Music to the ears of people who like results fast, there is such a thing as canned jackfruit.
Though it may not be sold in every food store across America just yet, there are more and more stores that now stock jackfruit.
Pre-prepared jackfruit is typically packed in salty water and has likely already been seasoned. This kind of jackfruit is ideal for rinsing and shredding straight out of the can.
It is also super versatile and can be cooked in a multitude of manners and mixed through just as many flavored sauces.
But, in saying that, it is very hard to go past sticky barbeque sauce and call it (meat-free) pulled pork.
So there you have it. You are now all the wiser on the peculiar fruit that goes by the name of jackfruit.
Whether you are now energized to prepare it yourself or would rather grab a can of the stuff to whip up some quick-fire, meat-free pulled pork, we hope this article has shined a light on the mighty jackfruit for you.