Jackfruit: The Rockstar of Flexitarian Cooking

This year’s star player of the flexitarian world is a tasty, nutritious food called Jackfruit.

Jackfruit is a fruit (the clue is in the name!) But it’s not a fruit that you can just pick off the tree and put straight into your mouth like an apple or a pear. This funky fruit can be huge (imagine basketball size) and can weigh up to 20 Kilos. In fact, it’s the largest known treeborne fruit in the world.

Young Green Jackfruit

Young Green Jackfruit has recently become the No.1 exciting new food ingredient that has the potential to replace meat because of its fibrous texture. It’s the new Flexitarian, Vegan, and Vegetarian friendly food trend and will continue to be so in 2020 and beyond.

Best picked young and green whilst still immature and unripe, before it ripens and becomes a much sweeter fruit that’s used in desserts. The flavour of the ripe fruit is comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana, but the unripe young green fruit is rather bland and tasteless.

The cuisines of many South and South East Asian countries use cooked young jackfruit. In many cultures, jackfruit is boiled and used in spicy curries as a staple food. The boiled young jackfruit is also used in salads and side dishes, and as fillings for tacos, cutlets, and chops.

Meat Substitute

Its’ most popular international use is as a substitute for meat, such as pulled pork (cooked, shredded, then spiced-up). Seasoning is the key to all the cooking of Young Green Jackfruit because it doesn’t really have any original flavour in its’ own right. It may be cooked with coconut milk and eaten alone or with meat, shrimp, or smoked pork. In southern India, unripe jackfruit slices are deep-fried to make chips.

Health Benefits

A good source of of vitamins and minerals, jackfruit contains vitamin B6, magnesium and antioxidants which are believed to boost the immune system, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and even help fight cancer. The fruit is high in fibre which helps with digestion and it contains a good amount of calcium, which can help ward off osteoporosis.

Ripe Jackfruit

Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet, with subtle flavoring. It can be used to make a variety of dishes, including custards, cakes, or mixed with shaved ice as es teler in Indonesia or halo-halo in the Philippines. The traditional breakfast dish in southern India, idlis, the fruit is used with rice as an ingredient and jackfruit leaves are used as a wrapping for steaming.

Jackfruit dosas can be prepared by grinding jackfruit flesh along with the batter. Ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes seeded, fried, or freeze-dried and sold as another type of jackfruit chips.

Jackfruit Seeds

The seeds from ripe fruits are edible, and are said to have a milky, sweet taste often compared to Brazil nuts. They may be boiled, baked, or roasted. When roasted, the flavor of the seeds is comparable to chestnuts. Seeds are used as snacks (either by boiling or fire-roasting) or to make desserts. In Java, the seeds are commonly cooked and seasoned with salt as a snack. They are quite commonly used in curry in India in the form of a traditional lentil and vegetable mix curry.

Where Is It Grown?

A member of the Moraceae family, its’ origin is in the region between the Western Ghats of Southern India and the rainforests of Malaysia. Jackfruit is the National fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and the state fruit of the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is also extensively cultivated in Brazilian coastal regions where it is sold fresh in local markets.

Where Can I get It?

Young Green Jackfruit is available internationally in various formats; canned (in water or brine), dried or frozen.