Jackfruit—You Big Fat Meat Faker!

(Note: this is post from our good friend, Haley Adams, MsN)

This summer, my mother-in-law introduced me to jackfruit, and I must confess that I’ve become a bit smitten with this seemingly inedible behemoth of a fruit since that moment. Vegetarian and vegan eaters might be familiar with jackfruit because the texture closely resembles pulled pork or chicken. For meat eaters wanting to cut back on animal products, or who are adopting a more plant-based diet, I think it’s worth climbing out of your pulled pork comfort zone to give it a try. I did, and I must say, it’s makes a pretty darn convincing pulled pork sandwich!

The jackfruit plant is thought to originate in south India where it grows in abundance. It grows well in tropical and subtropical climates throughout Southeast Asia, East Indies, Bangladesh and the Philippines. The large spiny green pods can achieve weights of up to 100 lbs. making it the largest tree fruit in the world. The bland taste of the unripe inner pods and pulp absorb just about any seasoning profile. The stringy meat-like texture lends itself to dishes such as curries, Tex-Mex, vegetarian stews, and the widely popular faux pulled pork and “chicken” recipes. Ripe Jackfruit has a taste that’s been describes as a cross between a banana and a pineapple. It can be enjoyed plain or made into numerous sweet desserts. 

Jackfruit can be found fresh year-round in most Asian markets. It can also be ordered on-line in canned form. If purchasing canned jackfruit look for young, green varieties that come packed in water without added salt and sugar. If buying fresh whole fruit, the skin should have a slightly yellowish color and the outer spikes will be softer to the touch than unripe fruit. It should give a little when pressure is applied with your fingers. It will have a musky fragrance when ripe. Don’t be alarmed by the off smell, which thankfully doesn’t correlate to the sweet inner flavor of the fruit. To use as a meat alternative, purchase unripe green jackfruit, which has the stringy consistency you’re after. 

Extracting the inner useable “meat” of the jackfruit is somewhat like preparing to carve a pumpkin for Halloween…gloves, sharp knife, perhaps some newspaper put out. If you’re a jackfruit virgin, I suggest watching a few youtube videos, and throwing back a few stiff drinks before diving in the first time. Some effort is necessary to extract the inner fruit, and to remove the hard seeds from the pods. The numerous seeds can be boiled, dried & roasted like pumpkin seeds or ground into flour. Don’t fret, have fun and dive in, you’ll be a pro in short order!

Nutrition Facts
1 Cup = 157 calories (approximately)
Carbohydrate 12%
Protein 2.8g or 5%
Fat (even mix of saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fat) 1%
Fiber 10%

Good Source of DV (%)
Vitamin C 37%
Vitamin B6 25%
Potassium 21%
Vitamin A 10%
Magnesium 12-15%
Calcium 6%
Iron 2%