Here’s everything you need to know about this popular vegan meat.
The plant-based market has long shed its niche label to step into the mainstream spotlight as more people embrace the meatless lifestyle for their bodies and the planet.
And as expected this has increased the demand for plant-based alternatives to meat and other animal products too.
So, while food manufacturers keep coming up with new products to try, and food connoisseurs with new ingredients to try in plant-based recipes, there is one meat alternative that’s becoming more and more popular.
Jackfruit meat has really connected with consumers who are looking for more ways to replace meat in recipes.
This tropical fruit native to India is recognized by its spiky green or yellow outer shell and unusually large size.
It’s part of the same family as figs, mulberries and breadfruit but its flesh has a shredded meaty texture, which makes it a go-to meat substitute in numerous dishes.
Moreover, its flavour is neutral, and it takes on all kinds of seasonings.
The fruit also has more protein than most fruits, at 2.8 grams per cup, and is a good source of vitamin C as well as vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, and folic acid.
Its nutritional profile also includes phytochemicals, lignans, flavonoids and trace minerals, which allows the fruit to lend medicinal value in various conditions such as some forms of cancers, arthritis, inflammation and more.
How is jackfruit eaten?
Generally, freshly picked, non-ripe jackfruit is used as plant-meat since it has a very mild, unremarkable flavour.
It is considered the perfect replacement for pulled pork, where you can marinate the unripe jackfruit for about an hour in smoked paprika, cumin, brown sugar and a good amount of barbecue sauce.
Once ripe, jackfruit becomes too sweet to use in savoury dishes and is mainly used as an ingredient in vegan desserts, or as a dried fruit snack.
The fruit is also sold canned, sometimes in brine or syrup, and you can find various types in specialty and Asian food stores plus increasingly, traditional supermarkets.
The popularity of jackfruit has soared in the past few years.
Part of the reason is that it is so versatile that you can easily use it in tacos, burritos, curries, stews, and sauces, to name a few.
Moreover, according to Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank: “[Jackfruit] is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought-resistant.
She adds: “It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change.”
It is therefore not surprising that jackfruit meat is popping up on menus across the world.
Carlos Bryant, co-founder of Las Maris Vegan food truck, features jackfruit prominently on his menu.
According to Byrant, their jackfruit birria tacos are among the food truck’s most popular dishes.
Las Maris has sold over 10,000 of them after they introduced the tacos around last year. “I may be biased,” he told Yahoo Life.
“But I think we make the best jackfruit birria taco in the world.”
Tomatillo, a Mexican restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, New York, offers a quesadilla and taco made with jackfruit.
In Chicago, Alulu Brewpub serves up delicious Vegan Sicilian Jackfruit Flatbread on menus alongside other vegetarian dishes.
Some Italian and pizza chain restaurants in the UK offer jackfruit pepperoni as a topping.
Chef Gaz Oakley in his signature jackfruit recipe uses tinned chunks of jackfruit, then covers them with lots of garlic, fiery chillies and tropical pineapple juice. He serves the lot with coconutty rice and peas, and a lime wedge for good measure.
How to cook with jackfruit at home
If you want to try cooking jackfruit at home, follow the simple steps listed below.
- Use canned jackfruit since it is less messy and easier to handle. Thoroughly drain away the water or brine and avoid the jackfruit packed in syrup, since it will be sweet.
- Separate the pieces with your fingers or a fork.
- Rinse the shredded pieces with warm water. This step will remove any unpleasant “canned” flavour and tenderise the jackfruit enough to help it to absorb flavours more effectively when marinated or cooked.
- Experts suggest leaving the fruit in a marinade if needed for at least 4 hours to absorb the flavours.
- Alternatively, you can toss the rinsed fruit into a pan with your favourite seasonings and sauté until hot, add your favourite curry or follow your recipe instructions for the desired outcome.
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