What Is Jackfruit?

Spend enough time on the internet and you'll come across dozens of recipes for vegetarian dishes calling for jackfruit instead of chicken or pork. This tropical fruit is often boasted as one of the best alternatives for meat, but what is it exactly?

Where Does It Come From?

Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world and is harvested in tropical climates all around the world, but it's mostly consumed in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, where it is the national fruit. The tree on which the jackfruit grows can reach 30, 40, and even 50 feet, with the fruit itself capable of reaching 100 pounds.

What Does It Taste Like?

This massive fruit has a taste that is often described as being a cross between a sweet banana and a pineapple, with one description comparing jackfruit to the taste of a banana Laffy Taffy.

In its normal state, jackfruit has a texture that is wet, slimy, and almost like that of a raw oyster. The fruit, however, is often shredded to make a stringy texture that looks remarkably similar to that of pulled chicken or pork. Perhaps that's why jackfruit is such a popular meat replacement.

Prepared jackfruit

It's A Popular Meat Replacement

Jackfruit is a healthy alternative to shredded meat and can be seen in vegan recipes for dishes like tostadas, soups, BBQ sandwiches, pizza, and even gyros. Chances are, if a dish calls for shredded meat, jackfruit can be used in its place.

Tostadas

We previously wrote about these excellent BBQ jackfruit tostadas that make for a great vegan option or a new spin on the classic Mexican dish. A great BBQ sauce and a handful of veggies and aromatics really give the sweet jackfruit another level of flavor.

Pizza

We also went into great lengths about using jackfruit as a topping on pizzas, including a recipe for a BBQ jackfruit pizza! It's great on a regular pizza crust or a cauliflower crust, if you really want to go all out and be adventurous.

BBQ Sandwiches

And who said only meat-eaters could enjoy a tasty BBQ sandwich? Don't let the hater jack with you, because there's a perfectly good variation of the classic BBQ sandwich that uses jackfruit in place of pulled pork or chicken. This recipe is so good you'll forget you're not eating meat.

Jackfruit tacos

How To Eat It

You can buy canned or jarred jackfruit at most speciality grocery stores but you can also try your hand at locating and preparing a fresh jackfruit yourself.

Don't worry, it's not as hard as it seems.

How To Prepare

For starters, you'll need to cut open the jackfruit and remove the core. Once the core is removed, take your hands and remove the individual pieces of fruit that are hidden between the fibers that make up much of the interior of the jackfruit.

Once the fruit is removed, it's ready to eat or shred until it has the consistency of pulled pork or chicken.

Different Ways Of Eating It

In addition to shredding jackfruit to put on sandwiches, tostadas, and pizzas, you can also be consumed without being cooked. The sweetness of the fruit makes it an ideal, yet exotic fruit that will certainly spruce up any fruit salad or fruit spread at your next gathering.

Like with other fruits, jackfruit seeds can be consumed if they have been roasted or boiled. It might help to toss the cooked seeds in a mixture of seasonings for additional flavoring.

Jackfruit and a jackfruit smoothie

Are There Health Benefits?

Jackfruit is high in protein, vitamins A, B6, and C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help promote a healthy body.

Nutritional Value

One cup of sliced jackfruit (raw) contains the following:

  • 155 calories
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of protein
  • 56.1 milligrams of calcium
  • 61.1 milligrams of magnesium
  • 500 milligrams of potassium
  • 5 milligrams of sodium
  • 10 percent of the recommended daily vitamin A intake
  • 18 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake
  • 9 percent of the recommended daily vitamin B6 intake

Health Benefits

Jackfruit is believed to have several health benefits, but due to a lack of clinical research into the specific benefits (or risks) of jackfruit, it's hard to say if those claims are valid or not.

The nutrients found in jackfruit, however, are believed to help promote things like a healthy immune system, a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, and and even fight again a wide range of diseases.

But the specific health benefits of jackfruit won't be known until proper research has been conducted.

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