The number of vegetarians and vegans worldwide has significantly increased over the last few years. So it should come as no surprise that the demand for plant-based alternatives to meat and other animal products has increased, too (
Food manufacturers keep coming up with new products to try, and recipe developers with new ingredients to try in plant-based recipes.
This article explains what jackfruit is, why it’s so popular as a meat alternative, and how you can best prepare it at home.
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit native to India. It commonly grows in the naturally warm and humid climates of Asia, Africa and some parts of South America. It’s part of the same family as figs, mulberries and breadfruit (
You can recognize jackfruit by its its spiky green or yellow outer shell and unusually large size.
Jackfruit is actually the largest edible fruit in the world, growing up to 8.6-35.4 inches (22-90 cm) in length, 5.1-19.7 inches (13- 50 cm) in diameter, and up to 22.7 pounds (50 kg) in weight (
Jackfruit boasts a slightly sweet, fruity flavor. Its flesh has a texture that’s reminiscent of shredded meat, which makes it a popular substitute for meat in vegetarian and vegan dishes (
While the flesh is the most commonly eaten part of the jackfruit, the seeds are also safe to eat.
Many vegan and vegetarian eaters seek out jackfruit for their dishes because of its absorbent texture, versatility, and mild taste.
Jackfruit is a large tropical fruit that has a slightly sweet and fruity flavor and a meaty texture. It’s often used as a replacement for meat in vegetarian or vegan dishes.
Jackfruit is a good source of nutrients. One 3.5 ounces (100 grams), portion will provide you with: (
- Calories: 95 kcal
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 23 grams
- Fiber: 1.5 grams
- Sugars: 19 grams
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 15% of the DV
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Thiamine: 9% of the DV
- Copper: 8% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Niacin: 6% of the DV
- Folate: 6% of the DV
It also contains several beneficial plant compounds, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and tannins. These may offer some protection against chronic diseases caused by oxidative stress such as heart disease (
Keep in mind that the exact nutritional amounts of jackfruit will vary based on its maturity and freshness. The riper the fruit, generally the more nutrients it will provide (
What makes jackfruit unique when compared to other fruit is that jackfruit offers around 1.7 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) — while most fruit contains little to no protein (
Still, like most other fruits, jackfruit gets its majority of calories from carbs.
Therefore, jackfruit will not substitute the amount of protein you’d find in the same quantity of meat, fish, nuts, or legumes – all of which provide closer to 9-23 grams of protein for that same portion (
If you’re opting for jackfruit as a plant-based substitute for shredded meat, be sure to eat other plant-based sources of protein, iron, and zinc to ensure that your diet remains balanced. Ingredients like beans, peas, nuts, and seeds all provide these nutrients.
Finally, if you’re following a vegan diet, consider including a sufficient amount of vitamin B12-fortified foods or a vitamin B12 supplement to your diet.
Jackfruit’s texture resembles that of shredded meat, but its nutrition profile varies quite a bit. When using it in recipes, make sure to combine jackfruit with beans, peas, nuts, or seeds to increase your meal’s nutrient content.
You’re most likely to find jackfruit at specialty markets, though it may be available in some grocery stores. You can buy jackfruit either fresh, vacuum-sealed, or canned.
Cleaning a fresh jackfruit can be somewhat of a sticky process. That’s because once cut, the fruit releases a sticky substance that may quickly turn the whole preparation process into a mess. Consider having plenty of towels nearby to clean up any excess juice.
Start by cutting your jackfruit into two halves, wiping off the excess juices when necessary.
Then, proceed to cut each half down into two additional halves, and so forth, until you have manageable jackfruit slices to work with.
To harvest the flesh, remove each individual jackfruit pod by loosening it with your fingers and pulling gently. Then, open each pod to remove its seeds. Also, no need to throw the seeds away. They are edible once cooked.
Since jackfruit is a pretty large fruit, you’ll most likely end up with more jackfruit flesh than you’ll need for one recipe, especially if you’re harvesting its flesh from a fresh fruit.
Simply freeze the extra flesh by placing each unseeded pod on a flat tray for 2-3 hours.
You’ll then be able to store all of the jackfruit pods together in a freezer-safe plastic or silicone bag without them sticking together. The jackfruit flesh will keep in your freezer for up to 8-12 months (6).
Canned or vacuum-sealed jackfruit
Purchasing canned or vacuum-sealed jackfruit can save you a lot of prep time. If opting for canned jackfruit, you can try choosing a variety that’s been canned in brine rather than syrup.
Jackfruit that’s been canned in syrup tends to absorb the sugar from the syrup, which may make it overly sweet.
To prepare the jackfruit flesh, start by rinsing it well, and then dry it thoroughly by placing it in a clean tea towel and squeezing any remaining fluid out.
Removing the excess fluids will allow the jackfruit’s flesh to better absorb the ingredients and marinades you’ll be using in your recipe.
Then, place the jackfruit flesh into a large bowl. Use your fingers or two forks to break apart the pods and create the shredded meat-like texture jackfruit is so well known for.
Marinate the jackfruit in your favorite sauce for about 15 minutes before using it in your recipe of choice.
Jackfruit can be bought fresh, canned, or vacuum-sealed. To prepare it, remove the seeds from the pods, rinse the flesh, and dry thoroughly. Then marinate prior to using in your recipes.
Jackfruit is an incredibly versatile ingredient. You can use it in a variety of dishes, from appetizers all the way to desserts. Here are a few ideas to get your started:
- Jackfruit tostadas
- Savory jackfruit croquettes
- Savory jackfruit buffalo dip
- Walnut and jackfruit cakes
- BBQ jackfruit sandwich
- Pulled jackfruit with baked potatoes and coleslaw
- Jackfruit curry
- Jackfruit tacos
- Sweet jackfruit balls
- Jackfruit sorbet
- Jackfruit upside down cake
- Jackfruit pudding
Two of the most appealing qualities of jackfruit remain how mild it tastes and how well it absorbs other flavors. These two things make it incredibly versatile and worth trying in a variety of recipes.
Jackfruit’s naturally mild flavor allows it to be easily incorporated in a variety of recipes — ranging from sweet to savory.
Jackfruit is an exotic fruit with a unique shredded meat-like texture.
This makes it a popular plant-based replacement for meat in curries, tacos, or pulled meat sandwiches. Thanks to its mild flavor, jackfruit can easily be incorporated into various other recipes, appetizers, and desserts.
Moreover, jackfruit is packed with vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds, which makes it a worthy nutrient-rich addition to your diet.
This exotic ingredient is definitely worth trying out, especially if you’re looking for more fun meat-substitutes in your vegan or vegetarian diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: Turn jackfruit into a true meat substitute. You can simply add more protein to your jackfruit dishes by incorporating ingredients like nuts, seeds, beans, peas, and whole grains into your recipes.